The science behind Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO) can be traced to Einstein, who showed in 1905 that a photon of light would activate a metal oxide. American Air Scrubbers™ has taken Einstein’s technology and developed it into a patent-pending process to actually clean the air, not just filter it. This process harnesses photon energy to destroy many toxic organic compounds that are hazardous to human health and the environment.
The key to PCO is the photocatalyst. A photocatalyst is a chemical compound that becomes highly reactive when exposed to various wavelengths of UV light. In the presence of organic pollutants, such as hydrocarbons, chlorinated solvents, alcohol, ketones and aromatics compounds, the active photocatalyst attacks the pollutants’ chemical bonds, converting the toxic compounds into benign constituents, such as water and carbon dioxide.
Photocatalytic systems have the ability to convert toxic carbon monoxide, at room temperature, to nonharmful carbon dioxide. This is a major development because carbon monoxide often is a cause of sick-building syndrome and it cannot be removed from the air with any type of absorption media.
Several attributes of PCO make it a strong candidate for indoor air quality applications. Pollutants, particularly volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are absorbed on the surface and are degraded by a reduction reaction. VOCs in the air, or on surfaces in a room are destroyed by oxidation, producing primarily carbon dioxide and water vapor. Thus, rather than simply changing the phase and concentrating the contaminant, the absolute toxicity of the treated air stream is reduced, allowing the American Air Scrubber™ Photocatalytic Reactor to operate as a self-cleaning filter, relative to organic material on the catalyst surface. (Volatile organic compounds are organic chemicals that contain the carbon element. They are carbon compounds that easily evaporate at room temperature and often have a sharp smell. They can come from many products, such as office equipment, adhesives, carpeting, upholstery, paints, solvents and cleaning products. Some VOCs can cause cancer in certain situations, especially when they are concentrated indoors. VOCs also create ozone, a harmful outdoor air pollutant)
American Air Scrubbers’™ Photocatalytic Reactor can be integrated into new and existing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems because of their modular design, room temperature operation, and negligible pressure drop. Stand alone units are also available, depending upon the need. American Air Scrubber Reactors™ also feature low power consumption, potentially long service life, and low maintenance requirements. These attributes contribute to the American Air Scrubber™ being an effective process for removing and destroying low level pollutants in indoor air, including bacteria and fungi.
There are significant advantages in American Air Scrubber’s™ system of destroying organic pollutants in the air using the PCO process:
It is applicable to a large number of organics.
There are no chemical additives, such as auxiliary fuel, required.
It has high destruction efficiencies at room temperature.
Works in humid conditions.
Effective for low concentrations of pollutants.
American Air Scrubber’s™ technology is patent pending.