Fresh air is something we often take for granted. However, for sufferers of respiratory or cardiovascular diseases the effects of changes in daily particulate matter counts can be surprisingly severe. To ease this respiratory burden engineering researchers from Washington University in St. Louis have developed a new air purification system which may provide better protection against air-borne viruses, allergens and ultra-fine particulate matter. The device is known as the (unpronounceable) SXC ESP and unlike traditional air-purification systems, incorporates soft X-ray irradiation to enhance the electrostatic precipitation (ESP) process.
ESP purifiers work by inducing a charge in the floating particles in the air which are then attracted to large collection plates of opposite polarity downstream of the flow. A limitation of these existing ESP systems is their inability to effectively capture ultra-fine particulate matter in the sub-micrometer range. The researchers overcame this limitation by using soft X-rays to improve the charging and capture efficiency of such ultra-fine particles.
To date the efficacy of the system has been demonstrated in an animal study, and the results have been published in the journal, Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Two members of the team have also founded Aerosol Control Technologies (ACT) to bring the system to market. The system should find a wide array of applications both in public health settings and industrial purification systems.
Press release: New device better traps viruses, airborne pathogens