Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, air purification has become a hot topic and air purifiers have become a highly sought-out product in the hopes of ridding the air of harmful pathogens and pollutants. Many air purifiers have become available – and popular – on the market, including those that use emerging technologies, such as bipolar ionization. Below we dive into what bipolar ionization is, how it works, its pros and cons and how it compares to Delos’ advanced air purification solutions.
What Is Bipolar Ionization?
Bipolar ionization is an electronic air filtration technology that generates positively and negatively charged ions which can remove particles from the air (such as bacteria and viruses) by attaching to them and making them fall to the ground. Bipolar ionization is still an emerging technology but has gotten a lot of attention during the Covid-19 pandemic because of the ability of some bipolar ionizers to remove SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
How Does Bipolar Ionization Work?
Bipolar ionizers produce ions (atoms that are missing an electron, or have an extra electron) by charging molecules in the air through a high-voltage wire or a carbon fiber brush. The charged ions are highly reactive with biological particles and gases, and attach to airborne particles like viruses, bacteria and ultrafine particles. This deactivates them and makes them stick together to form larger particles, which ultimately fall to the floor and other surfaces as dust. If a bipolar ionizer also has a high-efficiency mechanical filter that captures particles after the ionization process, the filtration is called electrically enhanced air filtration.
Benefits of Bipolar Ionization:
- Low pressure drop.
- Lower energy consumption compared to mechanical filtration systems.
- Can be implemented together with mechanical filters to enhance the performance of the overall filtration system.
Disadvantages of Bipolar Ionization:
- The ionization process may generate ozone and other by-products due to the high-voltage charging. Exposure to ozone is a major health concern as it can cause wheezing and shortness of breath and potentially lead to more severe chronic respiratory issues. It is important to note that ozone generation varies from one bipolar ionization air purifier to another, thus testing reports should be obtained for each to determine whether ozone emission is a concern.
- If the filtration system does not incorporate a mechanical filter, particles in the air that ions from bipolar ionizers attach to are not physically removed and instead deposit on surfaces as dust, which need to be cleaned/removed manually.
- Many bipolar ionization air purifiers claim to have antimicrobial effects, although, such claims are not yet fully supported by evidence. Testing reports are needed for each specific product to determine if that product has antimicrobial efficacy.
How Do Delos Air Purification Systems Work?
Delos advanced air purification devices use patented disinfecting filtration system (DFS) technology that combines electrical charging processes with the means of mechanical capture to enhance particle capture efficiency. This technology works by forcing particles to agglomerate (group with one another), creating larger particles which the mechanical filter in the device may more easily capture. The mechanical filter has a charge that is opposite that of the agglomerated particles, forcing the particles to become attracted to and subsequently captured by it.
How Are Delos Advanced Air Purification Systems Different From Bipolar Ionization?
Bipolar ionization removes the charged particles from the air, however, it may also deposit these particles freely on indoor surfaces (if there is no mechanical filter incorporated into the filtration system). Unless these surfaces are cleaned manually, these harmful particles will still remain in the room. Delos’ air purifiers charge the mechanical filter itself, capturing these particles in the filter, thereby removing them from the room altogether.
A third-party analysis performed by the University of Buffalo Industry/University Center for Biosurfaces (IUCB) showed the purification efficiency of the technology utilized in Delos’ standalone advanced air purification devices to be greater than 99.99% for aggregate removal of particles sized 0.007 microns and greater,1 which is more efficient than traditional HEPA filter purification devices. For context, SARS-CoV-2 particles range from 0.06 to 0.14 microns in size.
In addition, the Delos’ standalone advanced air purification devices meet the stringent UL 2998 certification for zero ozone emissions (≤5 ppb), and have also been certified according to the requirements set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for minimum ozone emissions (≤50 ppb). Many bipolar ionizers generate ozone, potentially at levels that can be detrimental to human health.
Finally, in addition to efficient air purification, the electrically charged mechanical filter in Delos’ standalone advanced air purification devices creates a bacteriostatic environment within the device. This means that microorganisms are unable to multiply inside the filter, which helps to prolong filter life. While many bipolar ionizers claim to have antimicrobial effects, not all have testing reports to prove it.
Air Purification with Delos
When choosing an air purification technology, you need to know how it works and what harmful airborne particles it’s effective at removing. Ample testing data can demonstrate that it works as advertised and it can provide insight into the pros and cons of the technology, especially as it relates to any potential byproducts that may be detrimental to an individual’s health. Delos offers advanced air purification solutions that are effective, independently tested and certified for low/no ozone emissions, while being capable of removing over 99.99% of particles down to 0.007 microns. Check out our current offerings and contact Delos for more information on how your space – and the people within it – can breathe cleaner and easier.
1. Individual particle sizes and specific particle size ranges may have different filtration efficiency rates.
Regina Vaicekonyte, MSc, WELL AP, is a Vice President at Delos Labs who specializes in research on healthy built environments to develop and evaluate products and services for commercial, residential and hospitality sectors. Her work on healthy buildings has been published in peer-reviewed journals, books and digital platforms.