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Ozone and a catalyst combined to create air purification system

Research focuses on Volatile Organic Compounds
clean air
USask researchers have published findings about an air purifying system that uses ozone gas and a catalyst.

SASKATOON – A team of University of Saskatchewan researchers have been looking into the use of ozone gas as an air purifying agent.

People on average spend nearly 90 per cent of their time indoors and, especially in the cold winter months in Canada, this statistic can be even higher. With all that time spent indoors, filtering out pollutants from indoor air is important for the health of Canadians.

Researchers from the College of Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) have been developing a catalyst for a new type of air purifying technique that would clean air at room temperature.

“Ozone is one of the strongest purifying agents that has been used in the water treatment industry for a long time. In our research, we use ozone and an effective catalyst to purify indoor air from Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs,” explained PhD student Mehraneh Ghavami.

Ghavami and co-researcher Dr. Jafar Soltan used the HXMA beamline at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at USask to discover which types of metal catalysts would work best for eliminating pollutants out of the air and recently published their findings.

Their air purifying system uses ozone gas and a catalyst to remove indoor air pollutants and turn them into carbon dioxide and water.

Air pollutants such as VOCs are commonly found in indoor environments. They enter homes and workplaces through items like cleaning products and new furniture. These air pollutants cause undesirable health effects, such as headaches, fatigue, nausea and irritation of the ears, nose and throat.

“We know that the concentration of VOCs is usually high in indoor air – up to 10 times higher than in outdoor air,” said Ghavami. “So, it’s very important to have a system to provide fresh and clean air for us.”

The aim of their research is to make a better catalyst and apply it in the real world. Ghavami says she believes their findings could be implemented in every building that automatically cleans the air, including businesses, schools and homes.

“We already see catalysts in many different fields, including in cars,” explained Ghavami. “I can imagine some kind of device that uses a layer of a catalyst.”

The team, while currently working to eliminate VOCs, is already beginning to research how to eliminate another kinds of pollutants such as bacteria or viruses.

“Right now, we are working on VOCs that are chemicals,” said Ghavami. “We want to try this work on bacteria, viruses and even the virus that causes COVID-19.”

She already had some ideas about other versions of catalysts to try for her team’s next research projects.