Air Purifier

Modular photocatalytic air purifier

Air Purifier Abstract
A photocatalytic air purifier is disclosed. The photocatalytic purifier includes filter structures coated with a catalytic material such as titanium dioxide. One or more UV lamps are interposed between the filter structures. The catalytic layer reacts with airborne VOCs and bioaerosols when activated by the UV lamps to thereby oxidize the VOCs and destroy the bioaerosols. The photocatalytic air purifier does not need to be replaced or regenerated after a period of continuous usage. The photocatalytic purifier of the present invention substantially eliminates odors, VOCs, and bioaerosols from air directed through the fan coil. The photocatalytic air purifier includes a control system that optimizes operating costs. Because of these features, service, maintenance, and filter replacement are reduced to a minimum. At the same time, the well being of persons living in the space conditioned by the photocatalytic air purifier is improved.

Air Purifier Claims
What is claimed is:

1. A modular photocatalytic air purifier, the photocatalytic purifier comprising: a modular enclosure having a retractable alignment mechanism, the retractable alignment mechanism being configured to move between an in-use position and a retracted position; a plurality of support structures disposed within the modular enclosure, each of the plurality of support structures having a catalytic layer disposed thereon; and at least one UV lamp interposed between the plurality of support structures.

2. The photocatalytic air purifier of claim 1, wherein the catalytic layer is comprised of titanium dioxide.

3. The photocatalytic air purifier of claim 1, wherein the plurality of support structures are comprised of a ceramic fiber substrate.

4. The photocatalytic air purifier of claim 1, wherein the plurality of support structures are comprised of a non-flammable substrate.

5. The photocatalytic air purifier of claim 4, wherein the plurality of support structures are comprised of a ceramic substrate.

6. The photocatalytic air purifier of claim 4, wherein the plurality of support structures are comprised of an aluminum substrate.

7. The photocatalytic air purifier of claim 1, wherein the catalytic layer is adapted to react with airborne volatile organic compounds and airborne bioaerosols flowing through the photocatalytic purifier when activated by the at least one UV lamp.

8. The photocatalytic air purifier of claim 7, wherein the at least one UV lamp oxidizes volatile organic compounds in contact with the catalytic layer.

9. The photocatalytic air purifier of claim 7, wherein the at least one UV lamp destroys bioaerosols in contact with the catalytic layer.

10. The photocatalytic air purifier of claim 1, wherein the plurality of support structures are comprised of a honey-combed material.

11. The photocatalytic air purifier of claim 1, wherein the plurality of support structures include a fin structure.

12. The photocatalytic air purifier of claim 1, wherein retractable alignment mechanism includes a hinged door structure that is retracted to provide access to the modular photocatalytic air purifier.

13. The photocatalytic air purifier of claim 12, wherein retractable alignment mechanism includes a support arm to hold the hinged door structure in place during installation and removal of the photocatalytic air purifier.

14. The photocatalytic air purifier of claim 1, wherein retractable alignment mechanism includes a sliding mechanism that slides the modular enclosure between the in-use position the retracted position.

15. The photocatalytic air purifier of claim 1, wherein the photocatalytic air purifier is disposed in a fan coil unit.

16. The photocatalytic air purifier of claim 1, wherein the photocatalytic air purifier is disposed in a duct.

17. A fan coil unit including an air return, a coil unit, a fan, and an air supply, the fan coil unit comprising: at least one photocatalytic purifier including, a modular enclosure having a retractable alignment mechanism, the retractable alignment mechanism being configured to move between an in-use position aligned within the fan coil unit and a retracted position, a plurality of support structures disposed within the modular enclosure, each of the plurality of support structures having a catalytic layer disposed thereon, and at least one UV lamp interposed between the plurality of support structures; and a control unit coupled to the at least one photocatalytic purifier, whereby the control unit energizes the at least one UV lamp in accordance with a fan coil operating mode.

18. The fan coil unit of claim 17, further comprising a media filtration filter disposed between the at least one photocatalytic purifier and the air return path.

19. The fan coil unit of claim 17, wherein the at least one photocatalytic purifiers includes a plurality of photocatalytic purifiers.

20. The fan coil unit of claim 17, wherein the catalytic layer is comprised of titanium dioxide.

21. The fan coil unit of claim 17, wherein the plurality of support structures are comprised of a paper substrate.

22. The fan coil unit of claim 17, wherein the plurality of support structures are comprised of a non-flammable substrate.

23. The fan coil unit of claim 22, wherein the plurality of support structures are comprised of a ceramic substrate.

24. The fan coil unit of claim 22, wherein the plurality of support structures are comprised of an aluminum substrate.

25. The fan coil unit of claim 17, wherein the catalytic layer is adapted to react with airborne volatile organic compounds and airborne bioaerosols flowing through the fan coil unit.

26. The fan coil unit of claim 25, wherein the at least one UV lamp oxidizes volatile organic compounds in contact with the catalytic layer.

27. The fan coil unit of claim 25, wherein the at least one UV lamp destroys bioaerosols in contact with the catalytic layer.

28. The fan coil unit of claim 17, wherein the at least one UV lamp is selectively energized in accordance with one of a plurality of air quality modes included in the control unit.

29. The fan coil unit of claim 28, wherein the plurality of air quality modes comprises: an occupied mode whereby the control unit energizes the at least one UV lamp and selectively energizes the fan; and an unoccupied mode whereby the control unit de-energizes the at least one UV lamp while regulating the coil to thereby maintain temperature within a predetermined temperature range.

30. The fan coil unit of claim 29, wherein the occupied mode further comprises: a demand sub-mode wherein the fan and a valve are energized; and a satisfied sub-mode wherein at least the valve is de-energized.

31. The fan coil of claim 28, wherein one of the plurality of air quality modes is selected by a switch.

32. The fan coil of claim 28, wherein one of the plurality of air quality modes is selected by a sensor.

33. The fan coil of claim 32, wherein the on-demand mode is selected in response to an output of an IAQ sensor.

34. The fan coil of claim of claim 17, wherein the plurality of support structures are comprised of a honey-combed material.

35. The fan coil of claim of claim 17, wherein the plurality of support structures include a fin structure.

36. The fan coil of claim of claim 17, wherein retractable alignment mechanism includes a hinged door structure that is retracted to provide access to the modular photocatalytic air purifier.

37. The fan coil of claim of claim 36, wherein retractable alignment mechanism includes a support arm to hold the hinged door structure in place during installation and removal of the photocatalytic air purifier.

38. The fan coil of claim of claim 17, wherein retractable alignment mechanism includes a sliding mechanism that slides the modular enclosure between the in-use position the retracted position.

39. A method for filtering air in a unit having an air return, and an air supply, the method comprising: providing at least one modular photocatalytic purifier, the at least one photocatalytic purifier including a modular enclosure having a retractable alignment mechanism, and at least one UV lamp interposed between a plurality of titanium dioxide coated filter structures; using the retractable alignment mechanism to dispose the at least one modular photocatalytic purifier in an in-use position within the unit; directing air from the air return into the at least one photocatalytic purifier; bringing contaminants borne by the air into contact with the titanium dioxide coated filter structures; and directing UV radiation from the at least one UV lamp onto the titanium dioxide coated filter structures, whereby the titanium dioxide coated filter structures are activated to react with the contaminants to produce carbon dioxide and water.

40. The method of claim 39, wherein the step of radiating UV radiation includes destroying bioaerosols in contact with the filter structures.

41. The method of claim 39, wherein the step of radiating UV radiation includes oxidizing organic chemical compounds in contact with the filter structures.

42. The method of claim 41, further comprising: providing a second UV lamp disposed between the photocatalytic purifier and the unit; and directing UV radiation from the second UV lamp onto a fan coil unit or a drip pan.

43. The method of claim 39, wherein the step of directing UV radiation from the second UV lamp includes substantially neutralizing microbes developing on a fan coil unit or the drip pan.

44. The method of claim 39, further comprising: providing a media filtration filter disposed between the air return and the photocatalytic purifier; and trapping airborne particulate matter in the media filtration filter during the step of directing air from the air return path.

45. The method of claim 40, wherein the step of directing radiation includes selectively energizing the at least one UV lamp in accordance with an operational mode of a fan coil unit.

Medical Supplies Patent

Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates generally to air purifiers, and particularly to photocatalytic purifiers.

[0003] 2. Technical Background

[0004] Most fan coil units consist of a water coil or a direct expansion coil, a fan, and ductwork to distribute conditioned air. Before heating or cooling, air is directed through a filter of some sort. There are various types of filters. One type of filter is referred to as a media filter. This type of filter retains dust and other particulate matter. After prolonged usage, media filters become clogged and need to be replaced.

[0005] Another type of filter currently being used is known as a HEPA filter. HEPA is an acronym for "high efficiency particulate air." HEPA filters can capture 99.9% of all particles, including sub-micron sized particles. These filters are useful in mitigating the effects of bioaerosols and dust. They are currently being used in hospitals, manufacturing clean rooms, and in other applications where clean air is considered vital. Typically, HEPA filters have an operational life span of twenty-four (24) months. After that, efficiency decreases markedly, and HEPA filters must be replaced.

[0006] Another type of filter currently being used are activated carbon adsorption filters. These filters were developed in response to industrial emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In an activated carbon adsorption system, contaminated air is directed across a bed of carbon. The carbon extracts the VOCs from the air and adsorbs the VOCs by holding them to its surface. One problem with activated carbon adsorption filters is that the air stream being filtered cannot have a high moisture content because carbon adsorbs moisture. Air having a high moisture content will quickly fill the carbon bed to capacity. Second, the air being filtered cannot include a large amount of particulate matter. The particulate matter will also clog the carbon bed. Thus, the activated carbon adsorption filter may require a pre-filter to reduce the particulate content and a dehumidifier to reduce moisture content to be effective.

[0007] An air filter is needed that substantially eliminates odors, VOCs, and bioaerosols from an air mass without requiring extensive service or maintenance. A need exists for a photocatalytic air purifier that can be conveniently installed and removed for maintenance purposes.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] The present invention is directed to a photocatalytic air purifier that can be conveniently installed and removed for maintenance purposes. The photocatalytic purifier of the present invention substantially eliminates odors, VOCs, and bioaerosols from air that is directed through a duct or a fan coil. The photocatalytic air purifier of the present invention is suitable for both commercial and residential applications and can be installed in either original equipment or retrofitted into existing instalations.

[0009] One aspect of the present invention is a modular photocatalytic air purifier. The photocatalytic purifier including a modular enclosure having a retractable alignment mechanism. The retractable alignment mechanism is configured to move the modular enclosure between an in-use position aligned within the fan coil unit and a retracted position. A plurality of support structures are disposed within the modular enclosure, each of the plurality of support structures having a catalytic layer disposed thereon. At least one UV lamp is interposed between the plurality of support structures.

[0010] In another aspect, the present invention includes a fan coil unit having an air return, a coil unit, a fan, and an air supply. The fan coil unit includes at least one photocatalytic purifier disposed adjacent the coil unit. The at least one photocatalytic purifier includes a modular enclosure having a retractable alignment mechanism. The retractable alignment mechanism is configured to move between an in-use position aligned within the fan coil unit and a retracted position. A plurality of support structures are disposed within the modular enclosure, each of the plurality of support structures having a catalytic layer disposed thereon, and at least one UV lamp interposed between the plurality of support structures. A control unit may be coupled to the at least one photocatalytic purifier, whereby the control unit energizes the at least one UV lamp in accordance with a fan coil operating mode.

[0011] In yet another aspect, the present invention includes a method for filtering air in a unit having an air return, and an air supply. The method includes providing at least one modular photocatalytic purifier. The at least one photocatalytic purifier includes a modular enclosure having a retractable alignment mechanism, and at least one UV lamp interposed between a plurality of titanium dioxide coated filter structures. The retractable alignment mechanism is used to dispose the at least one modular photocatalytic purifier in an in-use position within the unit. Air is directed from the air return into the at least one photocatalytic purifier. Contaminants borne by the air are brought into contact with the titanium dioxide coated filter structures. UV radiation is directed from the at least one UV lamp onto the titanium dioxide coated filter structures, whereby the titanium dioxide coated filter structures are activated to react with the contaminants to produce carbon dioxide and water.

[0012] Additional features and advantages of the invention will be set forth in the detailed description which follows, and in part will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art from that description or recognized by practicing the invention as described herein, including the detailed description which follows, the claims, as well as the appended drawings.

[0013] It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are merely exemplary of the invention, and are intended to provide an overview or framework for understanding the nature and character of the invention as it is claimed. The accompanying drawings are included to provide a further understanding of the invention, and are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification. The drawings illustrate various embodiments of the invention, and together with the description serve to explain the principles and operation of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] FIG. 1 is a plan view of a photocatalytic purifier in accordance with the present invention;

[0015] FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the photocatalytic purifier taken through line A-A in FIG. 1;

[0016] FIG. 3 is a detail view of the honey-combed filter element depicted in FIG. 2;

[0017] FIG. 4 is a diagrammatic depiction of a fan coil unit in accordance with a first embodiment of the invention showing the photocatalytic purifier depicted in FIGS. 1-3 in an in-use position;

[0018] FIG. 5 is a diagrammatic depiction of a fan coil unit in accordance with the first embodiment of the invention showing the photocatalytic purifier depicted in FIGS. 1-3 in a retracted position; and

[0019] FIG. 6 is a diagrammatic depiction of a fan coil unit in accordance with a second embodiment of the invention showing the photocatalytic purifier depicted in FIGS. 1-3 in a retracted position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0020] Reference will now be made in detail to the present preferred embodiments of the invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Wherever possible, the same reference numbers will be used throughout the drawings to refer to the same or like parts. An exemplary embodiment of the photocatalytic purifier of the present invention is shown in FIG. 1, and is designated generally throughout by reference numeral 10.

[0021] In accordance with the invention, the present invention includes a photocatalytic air purifier for use in a fan coil unit or a duct. The purifier features a modular enclosure having a retractable alignment mechanism. The retractable alignment mechanism is configured to move the enclosure between an in-use position aligned within the fan coil unit and a retracted position. The photocatalytic purifier includes a first honey-combed filter structure having a catalytic layer disposed thereon. A second honey-combed filter structure is disposed adjacent to the first honey-combed filter structure, the second honey-combed filter structure also having the catalytic layer disposed thereon. At least one UV lamp is disposed between the first honey-combed filter structure and the second honey-combed filter structure. The catalytic layer reacts with airborne VOCs and bioaerosols when activated by UV light to thereby oxidize the VOCs and destroy the bioaerosols.

[0022] Thus, the photocatalytic purifier of the present invention substantially eliminates odors, VOCs, and bioaerosols from air directed through a fan coil while reducing service and maintenance to a minimum. Further, the photocatalytic air purifier is conveniently installed and removed for maintenance purposes.

[0023] As embodied herein and depicted in FIG. 1, a plan view of a photocatalytic purifier in accordance with the present invention is disclosed. Photocatalytic purifier 10 is disposed in fan coil housing 102, between media filter 50 and fan coil unit 30. One of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that this embodiment of the present invention can also be employed in a duct system instead of a fan coil unit. Photocatalytic purifier 10 includes at least one filter layer 12 having at least one UV lamp 20 disposed between honey-combed filter element 14 and honey combed filter element 16. In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 1, a second photocatalytic purifier layer 12' is formed by disposing UV lamps 22 between filter element 16 and filter element 18. Each additional filter layer 12 increases the efficiency of filter 10. Thus, photocatalytic purifier 10 may include a plurality of filter layers 12 that include at least one UV lamp 20 disposed between honey-combed filter elements 14 and 16.

[0024] FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of filter 10 taken through line A-A in FIG. 1. The cross-sectional view clearly shows the honey-combed structure of filter element 12. Any suitable structure may be employed, however, the honey-combed structure of filter elements 12, 14, and 16 is preferred because air pressure is maintained as air is directed through filter 10. Filter elements 12, 14, and 16 include catalytic coating 120 disposed thereon. As depicted in FIG. 2, UV lamps 20 are positioned to direct UV radiation into the interior of honey-combed filter elements 12 and 14. As shown in FIG. 2, the cross-section of photocatalytic purifier 10 is equal to the cross-section of fan coil housing 102. Thus, purifier 10 purifies the entire volume of air passing through the fan coil.

[0025] FIG. 3 is a detail view of honey-combed filter element 12, showing catalytic coating 120 and substrate 122. One of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that any suitable catalytic coating 120 may be disposed on elements 12, 14, or 16, but there is shown by way of example a coating of titanium dioxide. One of ordinary skill in the art will also recognize that any suitable material may be used as a substrate material for filter elements 12, 14, and 16, but there is shown by way of example a ceramic substrate. In other embodiments, an aluminum substrate or an FeCrAlY alloy substrate are used. Both the ceramic and aluminum substrates are desirable in applications requiring non-flammable filter elements. If non-flammability is not an issue, substrate 122 used in filter elements 12, 14, and 16 could be fabricated using a paper material. One of ordinary skill in the art will also recognize that any suitable substrate geometry may be used. The geometry can include honey-combs, fins, mesh, a filter-type structure, a fibrous type, or a filamentous structure.

[0026] Photocatalytic purifier 10 employs photocatalytic oxidation technology to substantially eliminate odors, VOCs, and bioaerosols. Air propagating through purifier 10 passes over catalytic layer 120. In gas-solid photocatalytic oxidation (PCO), a VOC laden air stream is brought into contact with a titania catalyst disposed on layer 120. The UV light activates the catalyst. The VOCs react with the activated catalyst and are converted into carbon dioxide and water via oxidation. This process occurs at room temperature. Since the process occurs at room temperature, the operating cost is much lower than conventional high temperature thermal oxidizers. PCO destroys a wide range of contaminants in air streams. Filter elements 14, 16, and 18 are not degraded over time by UV light and thus, they do not need to be replaced even after continuous prolonged usage. It should also be mentioned that bioaerosols are also destroyed by their exposure to UV light.

[0027] As embodied herein, and depicted in FIG. 4, fan coil unit 100 includes housing 102 which is connected to suspension casing 104. Suspension casing 104 is attached to a ceiling or some other structural element of the building accommodating fan coil unit 100. Fan coil unit 100 includes photocatalytic purifier 10 which is disposed in housing 102 between media filter 50 and fan coil 30. Fan coil 30 includes cold water supply 34 and hot water supply 36. Both cold water supply 34 and hot water supply 36 include valves (not shown) that are controlled by fan coil controller 110 to thereby regulate heating and cooling within the conditioned space. Fan coil unit 100 also includes fan 32 which draws an air stream from air return 42 through photocatalytic purifier 10 and fan coil 30. The air stream is then directed into the conditioned space via air supply duct 40. In FIG. 4, photocatalytic purifier 10 is shown in the in-use position, being disposed adjacent to filter 50. Photocatalytic purifier 10 includes modular enclosure 60 having a retractable alignment mechanism 62. Retractable alignment mechanism 62 is configured to move enclosure 60 between an in-use position aligned within the fan coil unit, and a retracted position. In this embodiment, alignment mechanism 62 is a hinged door structure. Mechanism 62 includes arm 64 that is used to hold enclosure 60 in the in-use position. The retracted position is depicted in FIG. 5.

[0028] It will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the pertinent art that modifications and variations can be made to fan coil control 110 of the present invention depending on cost requirements and the complexity of the application. For example, fan coil unit 100 can be deployed as a stand-alone unit in a single family dwelling, or as one unit among many in a complex architecture. For example, fan coil unit 100 may be employed in a multi-storied structure having a plurality of air-conditioned zones. Fan coil control 110 includes firmware containing the control program necessary to control the water valves, fan 32, and UV lamps 20, 22, and 24 included in photocatalytic purifier 10. The control program is executed by an embedded microprocessor included in fan coil control 110. In another embodiment, fan coil control 110 is implemented using a logic controller.

[0029] Fan coil control 110 includes several operational modes. The first mode is an "unoccupied mode." In this mode, the level of comfort provided by fan coil unit 100 does not have to be at an optimum level because no one is in the conditioned space. The heating and cooling of the air conditioned zone is regulated in accordance with a wider "dead-band." Thus, controller 110 allows the ambient air temperature of the air conditioned zone to vary within a wide range temperatures before providing either heating or cooling. The UV lamps are generally inoperative during this mode but may be on for some lead/lay time before or after occupency.

[0030] The second mode is referred to as the "occupied mode." In this mode, the level of comfort provided by fan coil unit 100 is optimized because of the presence of people in the conditioned space. Thus, the UV lamps are always operating in this mode. The occupied mode includes a "demand" sub-mode wherein fan 32 is operating at a hgiher speed, and a "satisfied" sub-mode wherein fan 32 is operative at a lower speed. In other embodiments, controller 110 uses a "tolerance index" as a control metric. Controller 110 may include a motion detector input to determine whether the conditioned space is occupied.

[0031] A third mode is provided by controller 110. It is known as the "frost protection mode." The frost protection mode initiates heating within a conditioned space only to maintain a minimum air temperature within the air conditioned space. Since the air conditioned space is assumed to be unoccupied, the UV lamps are not operative in this mode. In addition to temperature sensors, controller 110 may include a sensor input coupled to window contacts, enabling it to recognize an open window condition. In another embodiment, the frost protection mode initiates heating during the open window condition.

[0032] As embodied herein and depicted in FIG. 5, a diagrammatic depiction of fan coil unit 100 showing photocatalytic purifier 10 in a retracted position is disclosed. In the retracted position, hinged door structure 62 retracts to provide access to purifier 10 during maintenance or the removal of purifier 10. Arm 64 is detached from purifier 10 during removal.

[0033] As embodied herein and depicted in FIG. 6, a diagrammatic depiction of photocatalytic purifier unit 100 in accordance with a second embodiment of the invention is disclosed. In this embodiment, unit 100 is disposed in media cabinet 70. The enclosure 60 of photocatalytic purifier 10 is shown in a retracted position. Enclosure 60 is equipped with slider mechanism 72 on a top portion of enclosure 60, and is equipped with slider mechanism 74 on a bottom portion of enclosure 60. One of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that unit 100 can be a fan coil unit or part of a duct system.

[0034] It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made to the present invention without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Thus, it is intended that the present invention cover the modifications and variations of this invention provided they come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.

PUB. APP. NO. Title
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