Penetration of Sub-50 nm Nanoparticles Through Electret HVAC Filters Used in Residence

<div><p>Pleated electret HVAC filters are often used in residence to mitigate the particles that originate both indoors and outdoors. These filters are usually tested with particles larger than 300 nm. However, residential particles can contain a significant amount of nanoparticles with size below 50 nm due to cooking, smoking, cleaning, wood burning, and outdoor infiltration. In order to characterize the nanoparticle removal by electret HVAC filters, penetrations of 3–50 nm silver nanoparticles through five different flat sheet electret media used in commercial residential HVAC filters were tested with face velocities of 0.05, 0.5, and 1.0 m s<sup>−1</sup>. Experimental results showed that all media had significantly high penetrations with 0.35–0.8 at the most penetrating particle sizes (MPPSs) for all three velocities, which were in the sizes of 10–30 nm. A model based on single fiber theory for particle penetration predictions was used and compared with the experimental data. Results showed that the model predicted the nanoparticle penetrations very well for all media and all face velocities tested. According to the model, for enhancing the nanoparticle efficiency of the current commercial HVAC filters, the fiber diameter should be reduced or the number of pleats should be increased. However, by doing these, pressure drop and cost may be largely increased. On the other hand, this study found the existing commercial mechanical HVAC filters were much capable for sub-50 nm nanoparticle removal when their minimum efficiency reporting values (MERVs) were larger than 13 and it is concluded mechanical HVAC filters can do a better job than electret ones. However, the quality factor analysis showed electret filters could be regarded as the best filter media for removing particles smaller than 300 nm.</p><p>Copyright © 2015 American Association for Aerosol Research</p></div>