HVAC Persona

Staying ahead by continuous focus on filter design & upgrading standards to mitigate evolving air filtration challenges

Shashi Shekhar

With increasing awareness of health issues, people are actually interested in measuring and controlling the quality of air that we breathe.

Sharing his perception about the importance of Indoor Air Quality, Shashi Shekhar, Managing Director, Camfil India, mentions to Thermal Control Business Update, that it is only since the last five to seven years that people are talking about air quality. The onslaught of Covid 19 since January 2020 has only made matters worse and forced people to discuss air quality. Discussing a problem would lead us nowhere. Now it is high time that we talk about solutions and take appropriate actions to counter the problem of Indoor Air quality. 

Air quality monitoring 

Measurement of the problem would be the first step towards mitigating the issues arising out of air quality issues. Since air is available for everyone free of cost, we are usually not concerned about its quality. We are usually bothered about the quality of products and services for what we pay and hence measuring the quality of air takes a low priority in our day-to-day activities. However, with the increasing awareness of the health issues associated with poor air quality, things are changing for the better and a set of people are actually interested in measuring and controlling the quality of air that we breathe. Though the percentage of such people is less, this crowd is growing. 

Steps to keep environment clean and healthy 

Cleanliness of the environment is extremely important whether indoors or outdoors. As per various studies, indoor air can be up to 50 times more polluted than the outdoor air. The main reason for this is that if the building does not have adequate filtration systems to handle the outdoor pollutants, these can easily by-pass the inadequate filters and premises. Dust and gases are also generated indoors by the occupants, pets, shoes, furniture, curtain carpets, deodorants, incense sticks, cooking etc. It is pertinent to know that WHO has recently revised its recommendations of both indoor and outdoor air quality levels. Due to the increasing trends of over 7 million deaths across the world due to air pollution, WHO has recommended stringent control on smaller sized particles – the PM2.5 and PM10. Proper filters and filtration systems according to the latest standards can help us mitigate the risks of air pollution. 

Camfil filtration solutions to meet clean air challenge 

Before we get into the solutions, we feel that it is important to create awareness about the problems associated with air pollution and that easy solutions do exist. We have been engaged in the noble cause of providing clean air solutions since the last six decades. We believe that clean air is a human right; and we strive to make clean air available for all by providing filter solutions that combine clean air with energy efficiency, which is a sustainable way. We have been advocating having proper standards for air filters. 

It is a welcome change that after 46 years, India has a new air filtration standard – the IS 17570:2021 which is based on the well known global standard the ISO 16890:2016. As a first step, if all the OEM’s of air handling units and treated fresh air units adopt this standard for filters along with the Eurovent 4/23, it will prove to be an easy way to work out the filter combinations. The new AHU’s and TFA’s would be in near proximity to WHO recommended levels of air quality. Secondly, wherever we have old ventilation systems, Camfil offers upgradation of these filters as per latest standards to achieve the WHO recommended levels. Here the existing static pressures of the fans, space availability, access to the ventilation systems etc., would be some factors that impact the solutions. Wherever we have limitations in upgrading existing ventilation systems, we offer our world class air cleaner solutions that can treat areas ranging from 300 sq.ft. to 10,000 sq.ft., with a single machine. For areas higher than these, we also offer customised air purification units. We also offer solutions for nano-particles – irritant gases with our molecular filtration solutions range. 

HEPA or MERV-13 filters provide increased filtration 

HEPA filters of grade H13 and H14 are excellent solutions for capturing airborne viruses in a single pass. H13 filters come with an efficiency of 99.95 percent on MPPS (Mean penetrating particle size) which is between 0.1 to 0.2 micrometres and most of the viruses fall in these sizes. All our air cleaners have at least H13 grade HEPA filters tested in accordance with EN1822:2019. 

As far as the SarS-Cov-2 virus is concerned, in ventilation systems, Camfil recommends MERV 15A filters – graded ePM1 80 percent which can mitigate the Covid virus. These are good enough for offices, schools, universities, hotels etc., for human comfort. However, for high risk areas like healthcare and dental applications, we suggest the use of H13 or H14 grade HEPA filters depending on the applications. 

HEPA filters market for supermarkets and big spaces 

Use of HEPA filters in ventilation systems depends on the application. HEPA filters are only used where an extremely high level of air cleanliness is required – like hospitals, operation theatres, defence equipment production, pharmaceutical manufacturing, electronic equipment manufacturing, BSL labs etc. For standard comfort applications like malls, homes, hotels, restaurants, offices, libraries, museums, data centres etc., to achieve WHO recommended levels of air quality a terminal stage of ePm1 80–85 percent is enough with 2-4 air changes depending on the application. This is easy to achieve and energy efficient as well. HEPA filters need to be used only where absolutely necessary. If we have a situation where HEPA must be used then we suggest the use of standalone air cleaners which are equipped with HEPA filters. 

Specific characteristics of Hi-Flo and Opakfil filters 

Hi-Flo bag filters and Opakfils are our flagship offerings. Offering air filters as such for any application is not a very difficult job. What is challenging is the sustainability part of this. How does one achieve the required efficiency consistently with lesser consumption of electricity? This is where Camfil excels with its entire R & D in the optimum filter design – be it the media or the other major components – which help the products being listed as A + in the Eurovent ratings. A + are the best graded filters and only 10 percent of products listed in Eurovent are supposed to be A +. This means that to retain the position as A + graded product one must continuously upgrade the design and the components of the filters to stay ahead of the pack, else a better product would replace you. 

Camfil Hi-Flo’s are very popular across the world. They have low pressure drop (60–80 pascals @3400 m3/hr air flow) and A + rating (Energy consumed 838 W) on a size of 592 x 592 x 640 mm – 12 pockets. The bags are stitched on the state of the art customised Camfil sewing machines in an aerodynamic shape which keeps these hygienic – prevents overlap, touching of surface of the air handling unit avoiding wear and tear. The green thread interlock helps in detecting wear and tear and damage to the bags easily. 

Camfil Opakfil are one of the best rigid filters in the market – again with the highest efficiencies and lowest operating costs. The frames are built out of ABS material to ensure that the frames are recycled. The ePM1 60 percent efficient filter comes with a pressure drop of as low as 65 pascals at a rated flow of 3400 cubic metres per hour. This is a completely green product and all the parts are suitable for either recycling, incineration or safe disposal for landfill. These filters are also some in our trademark “Prosafe” version, which make this absolutely safe for use for food contact applications. More details on Prosafe are available on our website. 

Standalone air purifiers and industrial air cleaners 

Air cleaners and air purifiers are great options wherever upgrading the ventilation systems is a challenge – due to technical reasons or due to administrative reasons. We usually encounter both of these and we are not worried as the air cleaners are good substitutes for air handling units. Air cleaners are also recommended at places that see increased human occupancy to clean up the air quickly. Schools, Universities, Hospitals, conference rooms, BPO’s, dental clinics, Covid wards, isolation rooms etc., are typical areas. ASHRAE and CDC, USA and ISHRAE have also recommended the use of air cleaners to mitigate IAQ and Covid issues. 

Invest in IAQ even if it means higher costs 

Definitely. People and institutions who have invested in IAQ solutions can vouch for the benefits that they are reaping out of this decision. Apart from the various health benefits, productivity increase, employee satisfaction, lesser sick leaves are some add-on benefits that are experienced. Pandemics will come and go. However, due to the geographic nature of our country, the air pollution issues will remain for some time. According to the latest report on air quality, India has 15 of the top 20 most polluted cities in the world. India has been consistently figuring in this annual list issued every year, since the past 5 years, with the number of cities only increasing year on year. Hence, more than the pandemic, the air pollution issues are reasons, good enough to motivate people to find solutions to pollution till we reach a stage, where outdoor air is no longer polluted or air quality is in safe limits.

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