NEWS RELEASE September 2020
Industrial Air Filtration Knowledge Can be Used to Fight COVID
There is a very large market for high efficiency filters and systems to battle COVID. The major driver is the discovery that the COVID virus is largely transmitted in small aerosols. Some of the companies best equipped to pursue this are ones presently involved with fan filter units, in plant dust collection systems, and gas turbine intake systems. These companies already supply high efficiency filters, hoods, and specially designed duct systems. All of these applications can be viewed as just different sequences of hoods, filters, and rooms or space.
There is the potential for fan filter units and local air systems to quickly grow from insignificance to a market size exceeding either gas turbine or in plant dust collector systems.
All these various designs use some sequence of hoods, filters, and rooms
There are three systems which can be classified in this room-filter-room sequence
HVAC Systems: Due to the new evidence that most COVID transmission is via small aerosols there will be a big increase in the market for HVAC filters. The biggest opportunities for the filtration industry are in the filters and media and not the ductwork which is typically furnished by HVAC suppliers. Two exceptions are Johnson Controls and Daikin who are in both segments.
Many HVAC systems will be upgraded from MERV 8 to MERV 16 or even H 13. There are pre filters and static filters as opposed to self-cleaning filters. The system sequence is filtering ambient or room air and then discharging it back into the room.
Fan-Filter Units: To combat COVID there is a new room to filter to room approach involving fan-filter units. Johnson Controls is a supplier of these units. Many of the other suppliers such as Ortner are oriented toward cleanrooms. Static HEPA filters are typically utilized.
Room Air Purifiers: This is a booming market and is served by large companies such as Honeywell and Mitsubishi as well as many specialized companies.
Local Dust Collection System: There is a big industrial filtration market using the hood-filter-room sequence. Companies such as Donaldson, Nederman and CECO have unique hoods and ducting to capture welding smoke or dust from local operations in hoods and then supply the ductwork to a filter. If the exhaust is going to be discharged back to the room H-13 or higher efficiency is needed. If the air is going to be discharged outside then the MERV 16 equivalent would be acceptable. Generally these are self-cleaning filters.
Turbine and Compressor Intake Systems: Some of the same companies (Dakin, Nederman and Donaldson) have gas turbine large compressor inlet filter systems. Room or ambient air is sucked in through a hooding arrangement and then filtered in the gas turbine inlet. Filter companies often supply the intake hooding as well as the filters. The trend has been to upgrade to MERV 16 or H-13 to protect the turbine. Both static and self-cleaning filters are utilized.
Local Air Purification Systems: There will be a very big market for what is the reverse design of the local dust collection system. Room air is filtered and discharged above a meat packer, diner or an airline passenger. HEPA filters are utilized and are typically static. Meat processing plants have been installing partitions. Instead there should be a continuous stream of downward purified air. The partitions cause turbulence. Think in terms of a perfume factory where partitions would not reduce the odor but purified air passing through the breathing zone would eliminate the odor for the individual.
The airlines have a system designed so that clean filtered air is delivered through an adjustable nozzle above each passenger. The air flows down around the breathing zone and then into the baggage compartment below.
There could be separate fan-filter units as per the checkout counter picture above. But it can also be a ceiling system as per this Blue Sky film studio example.
This can be an expensive approach. If the goal is just to have purified air flowing downward around people who are stationary e.g. meat processors, a central filter system and discharge hoods above the workers can be more cost effective.
When the worker leaves this small protected space he will be donning an N95 mask but when in the protected space can be mask free. This market is evolving. There are well established cleanroom designs but the primary emphasis is on protecting the product. Protecting people with downward flow of purified air in the breathing zone is a different challenge. The class 100 cleanroom approach of HEPA filtered air at 100 fpm flowing downward in all parts of the room will be too expensive for a restaurant or meat packing plant. Providing this flow to just areas where there are stationary people will be cost effective.
The McIlvaine Coronavirus Technology Solutions with daily analysis of developments provides the basis for market strategy. McIlvaine also has forecasts on air filters, gas turbine intake systems, local air systems, dust collectors, and cleanrooms. These are described at www.mcilvainecompany.com