Are PCO Air Purifiers Better Than HEPA Filters?

By Jeanie Wong, Platinum Quality Author

HEPA air purifiers have been on the market for a while, but there have also been some recent advances made in air purification technologies. Many air purifier manufacturers are now utilizing Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO) technology as a way of removing toxins from the air. This air purification method may be the most advanced one yet, and some leading air purifier manufacturers are beginning to add PCO air cleaners to their product lines.

For years, PCO has been FDA approved for reducing bacteria in meat processing plants, and it’s even used to cleanse pesticides from the fruits and vegetables we eat. Essentially, PCO filtration can be summed up like this: An intense light is reflected onto a metal surface which in turns oxidizes toxins. In chemistry, photocatalysis is defined as the acceleration of a photoreaction in the presence of a catalyst. An example of this would be the oxidation of organic contaminants such as bacteria and mold using magnetic particles coated with titanium dioxide nanoparticles, and agitated using a magnetic field that is exposed to UV light. Therefore, this type of purification technology converts harmful particulates and toxic gases into safer compounds such as carbon dioxide and water.

PCO uses broad-spectrum UV light which reacts with a thin film of titanium dioxide, which, in the presence of water, creates hydroxyl radicals and super-oxide ions that “burn” VOCs and microorganisms absorbed on the catalyst’s surface. With that in mind, many consumers may mistake UV air purification with PCO technology, and rightfully so. However, while both types of technology are similar in that they harness the oxidation properties of ultraviolet light, PCO purification systems utilize UV lamps with additional wavelengths. These additional wavelengths ensure a quicker reaction rate when it comes to the degrading of toxic compounds that are polluting the air you breathe.

Because PCO technology is an extremely powerful purification method, PCO units have the ability to eliminate particles as small as 0.001 microns, including the tiny penetrating particles that can absorb into your lungs and cause damage (HEPA filters are only able to filter out particles as small as 0.3 microns). Studies have also shown that in addition to VOCs, toxic gases, and chemicals, photocatalytic units can also render gases like carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide harmless — these are pollutants which can often escape standard units utilizing HEPA or ionic technology alone.

Those concerned with the possible health effects associated with PCO will be glad to know that PCO units have been found to be much safer than ozone and ionization, and they work wonderfully well for those with asthma, allergies, and multiple chemical sensitivity. Nonetheless, one should keep in mind that minute levels of ozone are created during the catalytic free radical generation process, but most PCO purifiers only produce ozone levels in the 0.01 – 0.04 ppm range (0.05 ppm is the maximum level allowed by federal law for medical devices).

Author Profile: Jeanie Wong is a marketing writer with extensive knowledge of heating, cooling, and air purification systems.

Cheesemaking – A Modern Improvement To An Ancient Craft

The production of soft cheeses (such as Camembert or Brie) requires a more gentle approach than the one taken for molding hard cheeses. The cheese curd is transferred to cheese hoops, and gravity drains them overnight. The curd is then brined to stop the growth of lactic acid bacteria. Once the brining is complete, spores of the Penicillium candida strain are added to the cheese curd. This specific type of mold adds flavor and character to the cheese. However, the selection of mold is not random, and wild molds are a significant problem in this stage of production. The cheesemaker controls surface microflora growth by carefully regulating temperature and relative humidity. Again, this is a very specific process. Wild mold and bacteria are not a welcome addition, and are factors to be controlled. Mold ripened cheese matures much faster than hard cheeses. The entire process is complete within a few weeks or months.

Cheese, like other food products, is graded throughout the maturation process. Part of a cheesemakers skill comes from being able to properly grade the cheese coming out of maturation rooms and sent to retail stores. Obviously environmental factors play a significant role in the final grade of cheese products, and higher grades mean higher prices.

The Airocide NASA PCO technology has a role to play in cheesemaking much like it does in a produce packing house. I have highlighted throughout this piece where air quality issues present themselves during production, but it is important to keep in mind that maturing cheese spends several weeks to several years in a cold storage room. This leaves long periods of time for spoilage to occur. It is also very favorable to performing Airocide tests. I think the cheese industry should be on everyone’s mind, and we should be looking for ways to increase our footprint in this globally pervasive industry. To be a modern improvement on this most ancient craft.

Our US Perishables team has done a fabulous job of this, and even produced a relevant case study. In this particular case the dairy was concerned with the growth of bacteriophage. This virus was infecting the lactic acid bacteria used to ferment the milk, and causing entire vats to spoil. The cost associated with this spoilage was around US $6,000 per batch. I encourage you to read this study carefully, and look for ways to replicate this success. Please share your success stories with us when you do. I would love to feature it in the Airocide Advantage.

David A.Ghelerter
Chief Science and Technology Officer, Airocide

Airocide a NASA product killing bugs.

Airocide a NASA product killing bugs.                                                                                                                            6.7.2017

Natural ultraviolet light is emitted by the sun in three bandwidths, as UVA, UBC and UVC light, but 98.7% of that light is absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere and the remainder of the UV light that reaches the earth’s surface consists of predominantly UVA radiation. UVC light waves, which are the shortest and most powerful in the UV range, have germicidal properties, and can break down the DNA of microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, dust mites and other allergens and contaminants.

UVC light has been used for decades to sanitize surfaces and tools in medical labs and to sanitize water in water treatment plants. Many spring water bottlers now utilize UVC light to disinfect bottles and sterilize equipment and increasingly, public water treatment facilities are utilizing UVC technology to upgrade safety standards for drinking water.

Airocide a NASA product goes further with technology and use UVC light and Titanium dioxide (TiO2) to boost the disinfection

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is the photocatalyst used. A unique process is used to create the patented TiO2 formula that coats the catalyst material. When this material is irradiated with the ultraviolet photons from the lamps inside, hydroxyl radicals and super-oxide ions are formed. These elements will oxidize (reduce to trace elements of carbon dioxide and water) volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) absorbed on the catalyst surface. They will also kill and decompose airborne pathogens. Because the organic material is completely oxidized by this process, the photocatalytic reactor is self-cleaning relative to organic material on the catalyst surface.

With the growing interest in eliminating toxins and allergens from the home environment, the germicidal power of UVC light offers a welcome alternative to chemical cleaning products. Airocide currently available to consumers that can safely eliminate invisible allergens and contaminants in areas that chemical cleaners would be completely unwelcome.

Mattresses, carpets and bedding are perfect breeding grounds for dust mites and other allergy-causing microorganisms that can trigger asthma, hay fever, eczema and other illnesses. Several international studies have concluded that exposure to these allergens in the first two years of life can jump-start these life-long chronic conditions. Airocide destroys the DNA of allergens and microorganisms, such as licefleasmold, bacteria and viruses, including influenza. The benefits of Airocide are obvious for households in which children and pets, as well as adults do not want to risk exposure to either harmful microbes or potentially toxic chemical disinfectants. These products will clean, sanitize and eliminate odors from household surfaces without adding additional pollutants to the household environment.
Hans Brunila engineer/environ.specialist