University of Florida

Regenerative-High Efficiency-Low Pressure Air Purification

In the event of a terrorist attack or military operation where Chemical and Biological (CB) agents are encountered, an air purification system that can assure the supply of a sufficient volume of clean breathing air to shelter occupants is of vital importance. The system needs to be robust, capable of operation for extended periods with little maintenance, rapidly deployable and relatively compact. In addition, it should require minimal energy input, not use consumable components, not be vulnerable to chemical poisoning and not produce toxic byproducts. Current technologies (e.g. filtration, electrostatic precipitators, or high-temperature catalytic oxidation) can provide high removal efficiency of aerosol agents. However, none of them can meet all of the requirements and therefore the development of alternative technologies is of great importance.

The proposed RHELP (Regenerative-High Efficiency-Low Pressure) air purification system will effectively decontaminate air containing aerosolized CB agents for collective protection through synergistic integration of nanofiber filtration and microwave assisted catalytic oxidation. The nanofiber filtration technology provides high aerosol collection efficiency and low pressure drop resulting from gas slip on nanofiber surface; microwaves provide the energy to catalytically oxidize the collected aerosol agents.

Under a grant from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Joint Science and Technology Office Chemical and Biological Defense (JSTO-CBD), CHA Corporation and the University of Florida (UF) are developing the RHELP air purification system. The UF researchers are experienced in nanofiber synthesis and aerosol testing; meanwhile, CHA Corporation has successfully developed a microwave assisted oxidation system and demonstrated its effectiveness in decontaminating air containing chemical warfare agent simulants. The project team is currently developing the RHELP air purification system. The RHELP prototype will be constructed and field-demonstrated at Tyndall Air Force Base in 2009 to show the superior performance of the RHELP system compared to existing technologies.