Deposition of Biological Aerosols on HVAC Heat Exchangers

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Many biologically active materials are transported as bioaerosols 1–10 µm in diameter. These particles can deposit on cooling and heating coils and lead to serious indoor air quality problems. This paper investigates several of the mechanisms that lead to aerosol deposition on fin and tube heat exchangers. A model has been developed that incorporates the effects of several deposition mechanisms, including impaction, Brownian and turbulent diffusion, turbophoresis, thermophoresis, diffusiophoresis, and gravitational settling. The model is applied to a typical range of air velocities that are found in commercial and residential HVAC systems 1 – 6 m/s (200 – 1200 ft/min), particle diameters from 1 – 8 µm, and fin spacings from 3.2 – 7.9 fins/cm (8 – 16 fins/inch or FPI). The results from the model are compared to results from an experimental apparatus that directly measures deposition on a 4.7 fins/cm (12 FPI) coil. The model agrees reasonably well with this measured data and suggests that cooling coils are an important sink for biological aerosols and consequently a potential source of indoor air quality problems.

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