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Author Archives: Nick Sobotka

  1. Air Innovations Custom-Engineered Environmental Control Systems

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    Produced by: GlobalSpec

    The precise control of air temperature, humidity, particulate levels, pressure and flow rate is critical for the manufacturing and operation of many applications in the semiconductor, aerospace, defense, biomedical and pharmaceutical industries. These are enabled by environmental control systems, which come in various forms and sizes, ranging from relatively small rack-mounted electronic modules to relatively large clean rooms. Because every situation is different, there are very few “plug and play” systems and solutions available on the market that will ideally suit the specific needs of the various applications. This is especially true for first-of-its-kind systems that are being developed to address new or evolving capabilities and technologies. As a result, many of these environmental control systems must be custom engineered. This article reviews some of the challenges of the custom-engineering process, and how Air Innovations can assist customers in developing and optimizing environmental control systems and solutions for their specific applications.

     

    Environmental control system components

    Environmental control systems enable the real-time monitoring and control of several environmental variables, such as the level of airborne contaminants, air temperature, humidity, pressure or flow rate. This is usually accomplished with several different components:

     

    Particulate control

    Airborne particulates, such as dust, pollen and mold can contaminate the manufacturing process for electronics and pharmaceuticals, or they may disrupt the operation of sensitive electro-optical components. Air cleanliness levels are tested, monitored and controlled according to ISO 14644 standards. High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, which are a type of pleated passive mechanical air filter, remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles with a minimum size of 0.3 microns or greater for the lowest grade HEPA. ULPA (Ultra-Low Particulate Air) remove at least 99.9997% at 0.12 micron or greater. The level of particulate contamination must be measured periodically so the filters can be replaced as needed. Lastly, the amount of clean air that is circulated throughout the enclosure — and how it is distributed — are critical functions of the cleanliness achieved and is a primary focus during the design phase.

     

    Temperature and humidity control

    Thermal gradients and moisture in the air may disrupt the operation of sensitive electro-optical components, or result in contamination, such as moisture condensation, water absorption or microbial growth. The control of temperature and humidity typically go together, as the air temperature determines the percent (%RH) of moisture in the air at a given atmospheric pressure. Temperature and humidity control systems require the use of components that are found in standard refrigeration systems, although augmented with highly accurate sensors and control systems, capable of controlling the temperature and humidity within fine limits.

     

    Air pressure and flow control

    Environmental control systems clean the air and provide temperature and humidity control by passing or changing the air within the controlled environment several times per hour. It is usually desirable to have a positive (higher) air pressure inside a clean environment so as not to suck in potential contaminants or otherwise un-conditioned air from the external environment through air leaks or open doors. However, in some cases, it may be desirable to create negative or neutral pressure. Air handling units are usually equipped with high capacity fans that can create the desired pressure profile and provide clean, filtered and conditioned outside “make up” air. Air turbulence may also contribute to unwanted thermal gradients or particulate contamination, so many of these air handling units must also be capable of producing laminar air flow within the controlled environment.

     

    Microbial control

    Airborne bacteria and molds may contaminate sensitive medical or pharmaceutical manufacturing environments, causing a hazard to consumers. Some environmental control systems that require the flow of sterilized or disinfected air may incorporate ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), which is effective in killing or inactivating microorganisms.

    An effective environmental control system, regardless of whether it is developed on a relatively small or large scale, must be capable of balancing the control of particulates, temperature, humidity, air pressure and flow rate. A non-optimum system may introduce particulates or contamination into the clean environment, cause wide temperature or humidity swings, create excessive air turbulence or promote the growth of microorganisms. The environmental control system designer must select and implement an optimum set of components to achieve the desired results.

     

    Considerations in environmental control system design process

    This section lists a variety of current and future considerations and provides a general “how to” for specifying the design of an environmental control system. While not all of these items may be relevant to the reader’s specific application, they are provided in order to illustrate the potential complexities that may be encountered in the design and development process.

     

    Size and shape of control volume

    Does the environmental control system need to be implemented on a certain component, on an entire machine, a manufacturing line or an entire room? Allowance must also be given to the size and placement of the environmental control system components, including fans, filters, heat exchangers, sensors and enclosures.

     

    Equipment and personnel

    What are the characteristics of the equipment or personnel operating within the control volume? These may include the following:

    • What is the amount of power consumed or generated by internal equipment? (Watts)
    • Are there fluids or chemical reactions that generate water or chemical vapors?
    • Do moving mechanical assemblies or equipment (such as motors, bearings or slides) create airborne particles?
    • Are personnel or equipment from the outside introduced into the control volume?
    • Does the internal equipment require open doors during operation?

     

    Internal environment

    What is the desired environment within the control volume? This may include the following:

    • Atmosphere — Air, nitrogen, inert gas or combustible
    • Particulate class (count per unit volume) and size (microns)
    • Target temperature (degrees), temperature range (± degrees) and control accuracy (degree change per minute)
    • Target humidity (% RH), humidity range (± % RH) and control accuracy (% RH change per minute)
    • Air flow rate (volume per minute) and air pressure (wg)

     

    External environment

    What are the environment extremes in which the controlled volume will operate? These may include the following:

    • Presence of excessive dust, dirt, humidity or precipitation
    • Ambient temperature range (degrees)
    • Ambient humidity range (% RH)
    • Operation in direct sunlight (solar heating), corrosive or volatile environments.

     

    Special considerations

    These may include the following:

    • Explosion-proof components or enclosures
    • Ruggedization for operation in high shock or vibration environments
    • Microbial control
    • Required use of qualified components (e.g., ETL, UL, CSA, CE, CCC, SEMI, MIL-STD)
    • Fail-safe/redundancy
    • Size and shape limitations

    These and other requirements are used by the environmental control system designer to develop a system design and conduct trade-off studies. These studies then determine the required air flow rate (cubic feet per minute), the sizing and placement of system components (e.g., fans, heat exchangers, ducts and filters), enclosure and insulation requirements, the placement of sensors, and air flow characteristics (e.g., volume flow rate, laminar versus turbulent flow, once-through versus recirculating air). Prototypes of the environmental control system are then fabricated and tested to verify that it meets or exceeds these requirements.

     

    Example applications

    Air Innovations has worked with many customers in several different industries to overcome unique challenges and develop customized environmental control systems that are optimized to address their requirements. Examples include the following:

     

    Example 1

    A military vehicle application utilized decades-old environmental control technology that fit into a limited space and required upgrading. Air Innovations retrofitted the existing vehicles with upgraded environmental control systems that enabled them to operate in rugged environments over a wider temperature range while allowing the application to fit within its limited space.

     

    KBR air innovations unit

    Environmental control unit for military vehicles.

     

    Example 2

    A pharmaceutical application required tight temperature and humidity control during the mixing of potentially explosive chemicals and powders. Air Innovations developed an environmental control system using once-through air that was intrinsically safe for explosive environments.

     

    Explosion-proof air conditioner

    An explosion-proof air conditioner for use in ATEX or Class I locations.

     

    Example 3

    An oil and gas company required equipment to operate over a very wide temperature range (-40° F to 130° F) while maintaining uninterrupted integration with their communications systems. Air Innovations developed an environmental control system that enabled the equipment to continuously operate within a harsh salt and dust environment with high reliability over the required temperature range.

     

    Example 4

    Air Innovations designed, developed and produced an environmental control system for the world’s largest observation wheel, which required a complex-shaped environmental control unit. This system was designed with high reliability, quick serviceability and system redundancy to address potentially life-threatening conditions in the event of power outages or system failure.

    Other examples and case studies can be found on the Air Innovations Case Study website.

     

    Environmental control amusement park ride

    A uniquely shaped environmental control unit for use in an amusement park ride.

     

    Air Innovations overview

    Air Innovations was founded in 1986 in Syracuse, New York, and is a world leader in designing and building environmental process control systems. Their primary business involves the development of customized packaged systems and solutions for temperature, humidity, filtration, pressurization and with direct-expansion, chilled-water or thermoelectric capabilities. Our experience covers aerospace, military, pharmaceuticals, photonics, biotech, healthcare, oil and gas, observation wheels, a wide variety of cleanrooms, semiconductor, wine cellars, agriculture, research, life sciences, floral, homeland security, precious goods storage (artwork, fur, instruments) and dentistry. Over 20% of the staff have engineering degrees, and the company maintains a research and development department dedicated to continuous growth and improvement in the creation, testing and validation of their custom-engineered solutions. Air Innovations’ numerous products currently span a variety of industries in over 55 countries. More information about the company and products can be found on the Air Innovations website.

  2. Personal Climate Control for Your Work Desk | Heating & Cooling

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    Office work desks

    Indoor climate control is a wonder of modern engineering, but it can be extremely expensive and wasteful. Nearly 13% of the United State’s energy consumption comes from heating and cooling buildings. Instead of controlling the climate of entire buildings, a better solution may be to control the climate of individual spaces in buildings. Installing a personal climate control system at individual office desks puts each worker in control of their environment while helping businesses save energy and money on utility bills. 

    Personalized climate control systems in office buildings reduce the amount of heated or cooled air that needs to be supplied throughout the building because only certain areas need cooling at any given time. Cooling vents automatically switch off when a worker leaves their desk, eliminating unnecessary energy consumption. Studies show that providing temperature controls for individual desks can help cut down energy costs by half.

     

    Benefits of Personal Climate Control Systems

    Implementing personal climate control systems into workspaces provides a range of benefits to the company and to its employees. Some of the benefits include the following:

    Enhanced Energy Efficiency and Reduced Costs 

    Energy consumption and its costs are a matter of concern for businesses. Personal ventilation systems can help cut costs by enhancing energy efficiency. 

    Improves Workforce Productivity 

    The comfort of workers is one of the major factors that improve productivity. People who work for long hours need solutions that enhance comfort. A personal climate control system allows personnel to customize their environment to their comfort level, thereby improving productivity. 

    Limits Air Borne Diseases Transmission

    One of the major causes of the spread of airborne diseases is central HVAC systems. HVAC systems circulate the air throughout the premises, carrying with germs and bacteria with it which results in the spread of various airborne diseases. It has become critically important to limit this spread within facilities given today’s global health situation, and a personal climate control system can be an effective solution. 

    Workspace Optimization 

    Nearly 60% of complaints regarding office environment are related to temperature. In any office space, there are diverse people of different sizes and gender with varying climate preferences. There is no perfect temperature to fit the needs of all of them. Providing workers with personal climate control makes it possible to optimize the workspace environment according to individual needs. 

     


    MyZone® System – Key Features and Benefits

    Logo and Unit MyZone

    MyZone® System is an innovative personal climate control solution that caters to the personal comfort of individual workers. This revolutionary personal climate control device is attached to the surfaces in personal workspaces, integrating lighting control, environmental control, and lift functions within a single unit. It comes with a non-fixed controller, which means you can position it anywhere on your desk without a problem. The MyZone system has a variety of features and benefits:

    • Non-fixed user controller for user convenience
    • Highly energy-efficient design
    • Automatic integrated motion sensor for additional power savings. Following 10 minutes of inactivity, the system shuts off automatically.
    • Variable options for cooling and heating
    • Adjustable louvers allow you to direct air towards yourself
    • Programmable for up to 15 users
    • Integrated sit/stand desk leg lift control
    • Adjustable generator for white noise
    • Adjustable calendar and clock
    • Task light dimmer
    • Option of HEPA Filtration

    MyZone Infographic HEPA filter

     

    Effectiveness of HEPA Office vs Desk Filtration 

    Along with climate control, MyZone® personal climate control system with optional HEPA filtration can also improve the air quality and provide better protection against airborne infectious diseases. This device can reduce particulate matter up to 94% in five minutes, directing quality air to the users.


    Contact Our Experts for Custom Environmental Control Systems 

    MyZone® personal climate control systems provide a more comfortable, energy-efficient, and safe environment for employees. It offers unmatched flexibility, versatility, control, comfort, and user safety to maximize productivity and optimize the workplace environment.  

    Air Innovations specializes in designing and manufacturing remote and self-controlled packaged cooling systems. Our innovative designs provide precise temperature, filtration, and humidity control

    Contact us today to request a free quote for your custom personal climate control system!

    Desk Console management Infographic View Infographic Here
  3. How To Keep Elders Healthy Under Family Care Or Aging In Place

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    Deciding how and where to best care for senior citizens as they get older can be an emotionally fraught experience. There are also several practical considerations that go into the decision to ensure their needs are met. Whether families decide to move their elderly parents in with them or to keep seniors in their own homes, a top priority is facilitating both a safe and healthy environment.

    Elderly at Home

    The National Institute on Aging advises people aging in place to install grab bars, ramps, and non-slip adhesives in their homes. Access to nutritious meals and following strict medication regimens are also advised. Experts recommend regular handwashing to prevent infections, and the CDC strongly urges senior citizens to get vaccinated against both COVID-19 and influenza.

    But there is even more that can be done to ensure high-quality air and infection control in a private residential setting. Here is what you need to know:

    What Residential HVAC Systems Were Designed To Do

    Residential HVAC systems are designed to ventilate and filter air to maintain adequate air quality and control temperature. Ventilation and filtration remove odors and trap dust, smoke, and pollen. However, residential HVAC systems are not designed to capture toxic microorganisms.

    HEPA Filters

    HEPA filters capture pathogens which include bacteria, viruses, and even mold spores. Unlike hospital-grade HVAC systems, most residential units do not generate powerful enough airflow to overcome resistance caused by HEPA filters. Therefore, adding one to a home HVAC system is not a viable means of containing contaminants.

    One way to reap the benefits of HEPA filtration in homes is through air purifiers equipped with HEPA filters. Since they reduce the number of particles that carry viruses by approximately 95%, they are considered medical grade.

    Humidity Control Matters, Too

    According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health relative humidity (RH) levels between 40-60% are optimal in homes for two reasons. First, mucous membranes are most resistant to infection around moderate humidity levels. Second, viruses living in aerosol particles survive for less time at 50% RH than in drier or very humid conditions.

    Humidity control is not standard in residential HVAC systems, but it can be added retroactively. However, humidity control functionality that is incorporated into furnaces or central air conditioning only works when the system is running. Similarly, controlling humidity levels is not available through forced-water heating that uses boilers. If moisture control is not available through a household HVAC system, a stand-alone humidifier that monitors room levels will get the job done.

    Volatile Organic Compounds

    Exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can have short- and long-term adverse health implications. VOCs are gases emitted from various household products including new carpets, aerosol sprays, paint, PVC plastics, and air fresheners. VOCs originate indoors, and exposure to moderate levels of VOCs over time or high levels of VOCs in a short period of time can cause minor eye, nose, and throat irritation. Over time, higher concentrations of VOCs can cause liver, kidney, and central nervous system damage.

    Air Purifiers Have Their Limits

    According to Consumer Reports, air purifiers can remove contaminants only when they are floating in the air. Mites, mold, pollen, and VOCs are too heavy for most air purifiers. Units with HEPA filtration can capture aerosol droplets on which the coronavirus travels, but not all purifiers draw in enough air to actually reduce the volume of particles.

    The Bottom Line

    Avoiding harmful contaminants and facilitating quality indoor air is achievable, even in a private setting. Fortunately, a highly effective solution can be as simple and unobtrusive as a window AC unit.

    Air Innovations brought over 25 years of experience designing and manufacturing customized solutions for temperature, humidity, and filtration control to its HEPAiRx® window-mount ventilating air purifier. The HEPAiRx system is a plug-and-play air filtration device comparable in size to a standard AC unit. The system quickly and thoroughly purifies a room of airborne particles and contaminants because each unit features medical-grade HEPA filtration and ventilation to exhaust air for a standard-sized room every 30 minutes.

    The HEPAiRx unit brings in a high enough quantity of fresh air to naturally dilute VOCs without requiring a window to be open. It also uses upstream UV-C to kill viruses trapped on the intake side of the HEPA filter to give seniors an extra buffer against life-threatening elements. Lastly, the system has onboard heating, cooling, and humidity control features to keep residents comfortable.

    The HEPAiRx system is currently the only solution on the market that can do the following:

    • Brings dedicated fresh air into a room to naturally dilute potentially harmful aerosol particles, VOCs, and gases.
    • Uses optional upstream UV-C to kill viruses trapped on the intake side of the HEPA filter – the only effective way to kill viruses on the HEPA filter.
    • Integrates the HVAC to isolate the space from the existing systems. HVAC ductwork is a source of cross-contamination between spaces. The HEPAiRx system seals off the current system to separate it from adjacent rooms creating an actual isolation space.

    Air Innovations’ HEPAirX system empowers adult children to take a proactive approach to keep beloved older family members safe and healthy. Or, the unit enables senior citizens to take charge of their own contamination control.

  4. Elevating The Standards Of Elder Care In Residential Facilities

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    The global pandemic exposed a need to elevate the standard of care for the elderly. In particular, senior citizens living and spending time in group settings such as nursing homes, residential care facilities, and senior centers were at exceptionally high risk for contracting and dying of COVID-19.

    As of April 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy reported that residents in long-term care facilities accounted for only 3% of the total 21 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., yet made up one-third of the 350,000 deaths. Nursing home residents are particularly susceptible to COVID, and other infections, due to their naturally lowered immune functions and being prone to pre-existing conditions. Additionally, nursing homes lack the systems engineered to control the spread of potentially life-threatening contagious diseases, like COVID.

    Various tactics are needed to prevent the spread of infections where older adults live and congregate. Fortunately, armed with some vital information, facilities can take steps to protect their communities better.

    Group at Nursing Home

    The Role of Ventilation And Filtration

    Similar to other contagious pathogens, it became evident that COVID spreads primarily indoors. Beyond physical distancing and masking, the best way to reduce the spread is by implementing air ventilation and filtration systems.

    According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), “The weight of evidence indicates ventilation plays a key role in infectious disease transmission, (…) showing low ventilation associated with transmission of measles, tuberculosis, rhinovirus, influenza, and SARS-CoV-1.”

     

    Elevate Ventilation Standards

    Yet, JAMA also reports that most indoor spaces (except for hospitals) ventilate and filter air at minimum levels.

    The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) sets ventilation standards for most indoor spaces. However, these standards are intended to remove odors and ensure an adequate level of air quality. They don’t support an infection control strategy.

     

    Better Filtration Plays A Key Role

    MERV FILTERS

    Air filters and purifiers have several efficiency standards, including clean air delivery rate (CADR) and minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV). Established by ASHRAE, the MERV rating measures the quality of air filters used in central ventilation systems. For reference, MERV-8 is a typical low-grade filter that captures only 15% of small particles. MERV-13 filters are able to capture nearly 70% of small air particles and are an integral part of a larger infection control program. Standards for nursing home resident rooms require only MERV-7 filters.

    HEPA FILTERS

    HEPA filters are used in any application that requires contamination control. Air purifiers equipped with HEPA filters can capture even smaller microns than MERV filters. Since they reduce the number of particles that carry viruses by approximately 95%, they are considered medical grade.

    Upgrading filters to capture a higher percentage of particles of all sizes is a reasonably simple way to protect the elderly living in long-term care facilities.

     

    Incorporate Fresh Air

    Researchers have found that fresh air delivered through AC or ventilation systems plays an important role in diluting the volume of viral aerosol particles in a room. Monitoring carbon dioxide (CO₂) levels is a simple way to ensure enough fresh air is in a room, as high CO₂ levels indicate that there is a lot of exhaled air in the room. A sick person has a greater chance of distributing viral particles to a healthy person.

     

    Relative Humidity Matters, Too

    In addition to regular ventilation and air filtration, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health recommends maintaining relative humidity (RH) levels between 40-60% for two reasons. First, mucous membranes are most resistant to infection in moderate humidity levels. Second, aerosol particles potentially containing contagious diseases can live for less time at 50% RH than in drier or very humid conditions.

    Facilities and residences for older people can monitor humidity and utilize humidifiers as needed at a low cost.

     

    The Bottom Line

    A multi-pronged approach is the best way to protect older citizens from low-quality air and infectious diseases. Fortunately, a highly effective solution can be as simple and unobtrusive as a window AC unit.

    Air Innovations brought over 25 years of experience designing and manufacturing customized solutions for temperature, humidity, and filtration control to its HEPAiRx® ventilating and filtrating system. HEPAiRx systems are air filtration devices that are comparable in size to a standard AC unit. They combine multiple strategies for maintaining optimal health in a variety of applications. HEPAiRx units quickly and thoroughly purify a room of airborne particles and contaminants. Each plug-and-play unit features a MERV-17 medical-grade HEPA filter and ventilation to exhaust air for a standard-sized room every 30 minutes.

    HEPAiRx systems are an ideal solution for use in nursing homes. Since each unit is entirely self-contained and compact, facilities don’t have to overhaul their existing HVAC systems. HEPAirX units empower facility administrators to take a proactive approach to keep our beloved older family members and staff safe and healthy.

    The HEPAiRx system is currently the only solution on the market that can do the following:

    • Bring dedicated fresh air into a room to naturally dilute potentially harmful aerosol particles, VOCs, and gases.
    • Create either a negative or positive pressure environment.
    • Use optional upstream UV-C to kill viruses trapped on the intake side of the HEPA filter – the only effective way to kill viruses on the HEPA filter.
    • Integrate the HVAC to isolate the space from the existing systems. HVAC ductwork is a source of cross-contamination between operatories. When using the HEPAiRx system, you can seal off the existing system to separate it from adjacent rooms, creating an actual isolation space.
  5. Portable IsolationAir Contamination Control Units Bring Flexibility to Hospitals

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    COVID-19 has put healthcare facilities under extraordinary pressure to accomplish more with less. Nurses and doctors had to care for waves of sick patients with limited resources. Medical personnel simply didn’t have the equipment or facilities needed to keep up with patient demand, and they struggled to contain the virus with makeshift solutions.

    The most obvious way to protect patients and staff from those infected with COVID-19, or any other infectious disease, is to isolate them. Proper isolation rooms have dedicated HVAC and HEPA filtration capabilities. These rooms are constructed according to stringent guidelines from the CDC and other professional associations. Isolation rooms don’t share air or controls with the rest of the medical facility to prevent the risk of cross-contamination. However, at the height of the pandemic, even the most advanced, well-funded institutions could not isolate their contagious patients.

    Protecting Patients and Staff

    Negative Pressure

    The most common type of isolation room utilizes negative pressure. These spaces have lower pressure inside the room than in the surrounding environment. As a result, contaminants can’t sneak out of the room and spread to the rest of the hospital. A negative pressure environment is maintained by using a dedicated HVAC system that continuously pumps clean air into the room near the floor and filters and sucks it back out through a grill near the ceiling. Other patients and medical staff are protected from the sick person.

    Positive Pressure

    Positive pressure rooms maintain higher pressure inside a space than the surrounding environment. These rooms are connected to a hospital HVAC system, which pumps clean, filtered air into the room. When the door to the space is opened, the high pressure forces out clean air and prevents any contaminants from entering the area. Positive pressure rooms are valuable for compromised patients—burn victims, surgery patients, birthing women, and injured emergency room patients—highly susceptible to infection or pathogens.

    Financial Solvency

    Perhaps now more than ever, building isolation spaces dedicated to protecting and treating vulnerable patients is a prohibitively expensive option for most hospitals.

    Between forced facilities shutdowns and increased costs surrounding COVID-19 preparedness, U.S. hospitals lost an estimated $323 billion in 2020. Moreover, hospitals and health systems are projected to lose between $53 to $122 billion more in 2021. Beyond shrinking budgets, administrators can be slow to adopt change due to protracted stakeholder approval processes. The path of least resistance is often to maintain the status quo.

    Versatility for Enhanced Level of Patient Care

    IsolationAir® Portable Contamination Control System

    Air Innovations strives to truly understand the challenges our customers and potential clients grapple with beyond controlling temperature and humidity. Adopting a holistic approach enables us to engineer lasting solutions that are adaptable to meet their evolving needs.

    We designed the IsolationAir® system so that hospitals and medical facilities could continue delivering high-quality care to their most vulnerable patients without taking on a renovation project. Our systems convert standard-sized patient rooms into positive or negative pressure spaces depending on demand. Since the unit is portable, it limits the need for stakeholder approval often required for renovation projects. IsolationAir contamination control units are considered devices and not intrinsic parts of a hospital.

    HEPA Filtration & UV Light

    The portable unit includes medical-grade HEPA filtration to remove potentially harmful particles from a negative pressure space or into a positive pressure patient room. The unit also has UV-C light to sterilize contaminants that stick to the back of the unit and can be ingested by sick patients.

    Designed for Patient Comfort

    IsolationAir systems have onboard heating and cooling to keep patients comfortable when they are cut off from the hospital HVAC system. The AC functionality also serves to dehumidify exam and patient rooms.

    Installation Options

    Each unit comes equipped with flexible ductwork, and there are two ways to implement them.

    To boost readiness to respond to increased patient volumes, hospitals can pre-facilitate inpatient or exam rooms by having a universal grill adapter connected to the return grill in the ceiling. At that time, maintenance staff can check for other air exhausts or leaks in the room and seal them up. When it becomes necessary to expand surge capacity for any reason, hospital staff can rapidly deploy an IsolationAir unit by simply plugging the unit into an emergency outlet and connecting the flexible ductwork to the available adapter.

    Alternatively, medical facilities can simply wheel an IsolationAir unit into a particular exam or treatment room and install a return grill adapter to which the flexible ductwork on the unit will connect. Maintenance teams can seal up visible air leaks around windows and doors. Once on-site, the process takes less than an hour and doesn’t require specialty HVAC professionals. Installing a return grill adapter as needed before connecting the unit’s ductwork is a viable option when hospitals can foresee a rise in patient demand, as we did with COVID-19.

    When Flexibility Matters Most

    Anytime a room is used to “open up” patients, they are immediately susceptible to potentially life-threatening pathogens. Dedicated surgical theaters are typically designed as positive pressure rooms. However, there have been instances where hospitals have opted to permanently convert surgical spaces from positive rooms to negative rooms, a transition that requires planning and time.

    Trauma patients and burn victims have the best chance of survival when treated in positive pressure rooms. Issues arise when a crisis happens, and hospitals don’t have enough positive pressure rooms to treat victims. The flexibility to transform an unpressurized room into a positive pressure space quickly enables a medical establishment to treat and save more patients.

    Surprisingly enough, most labor and delivery floors and emergency units don’t have contamination control even though these patients are vulnerable to infections. Often, it is impossible to anticipate whether rooms should be positive or negative pressured spaces. Hospitals, extended care facilities, and emergency preparedness centers need the flexibility to determine—sometimes on the fly—whether patients need positive or negative pressure to save their lives or to prevent catastrophe.

    The Final Verdict

    Despite the enormous challenges and constraints facing hospitals today, administrators have solutions available to help them respond with agility to varying patient needs. We are proud our IsolationAir system can help medical professionals do their jobs easier and enable them to save more lives. When it comes to creating spaces to care for our most vulnerable patients, versatility is the name of the game.

    For Reference:

    IsolationAir® Systems meet the following industry guidelines:

    • 12 air changes per hour via HEPA filters
    • Each IsolationAir unit conditions rooms up to 375 sq ft with an 8’ ceiling
    • A pressure differential of 0.01” minimum between a room and adjoining spaces
      (May require additional seals around doors or other significant leak points in large rooms with poorly sealed doors).
    • Continuous operation when plugged into an emergency generator outlet
    • Provides stable temperature control for patient comfort
    • Originally designed to meet the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ critical benchmarks:
      • Critical Benchmark #2-2: Surge Capacity: Isolation Capacity
      • Critical Benchmark #2-9: Surge Capacity: Trauma and Burn Care
      • Cross-cutting Critical Benchmark #6: Preparedness for Pandemic Influenza

    For additional information, see these websites:

    1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Guidelines for infectious disease control in health care facilities
    2. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) – Guidelines for design and construction of hospitals, including heating and cooling control to 75°F.
    3. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) – Chapter 7 in Applications Handbook regarding health care facilities.
  6. Air Innovations Sells Its 50,000th Unit

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    After 35 years in business, Air Innovations has sold its 50,000th Unit

    Air Innovations, the leader in environmental control units (ECUs), has announced it sold its 50,000th unit. On September 29, 2021, the company shipped the milestone unit from its Wine Guardian brand of wine cellar cooling systems. The 50,000th unit is a DS025 ducted split wine cellar cooling unit. The split system allows the flexibility of installing the fan coil and condensing unit in many types of locations. This makes it ideal for cellars with limited space.

    Air Innovations’ capabilities expand beyond just wine cellar cooling systems. The company designs and manufactures custom environmental control units for a wide range of industries. A variety of healthcare solutions are available to help prevent reinfection, maintain sterile instruments, and turn a flexible space into a quarantine area. The company also features a full line of specially designed cleanroom HVAC units. Air Innovations also offers custom process environmental control solutions for aerospace, biotech, pharmaceutical, semiconductor, and other industries.