New: UV-lit office fan said to kill COVID-19 virus

New virus-killing fans may offer inexpensive way to control COVID-19 contamination in commercial buildings

Western Investor
January 13, 2021

Haiku-UV-C fan can kill pathogens that cause the COVID-19 virus, tests confirm.| Big Ass Fans
— Haiku-UV-C fan can kill pathogens that cause the COVID-19 virus, tests confirm.| Big Ass Fans

A new fan that uses ultraviolet (UV) light can kill 99.9 per cent of the SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen that causes COVID-19, according to the Canadian distributor and independent test results.

The Haiku-UV-C fan, manufactured by Big Ass Fans of Kentucky and distributed in Canada by Big Ass Fans of Oakville, Ontario, are being eyed as a potential cost-saving and effective method to help make workplaces safer for those returning to the office after nearly a year of working from home.

The near-silent ceiling-mounted fans use disinfecting ultraviolet (UV) lights built into the base and aimed up at the ceiling. As the fan circulates air throughout the room, the UV lights kill airborne pathogens that cross their path, Big Ass spokesman Nick Georgescu told Western Investor.

UV light can be dangerous to eyes if viewed directly, which explains why the fans direct light to the ceiling.

Compared to conventional fans, the Big Ass versions are expensive, starting at around $2,000 for a units large enough to clean a 1,000-square-foot space, but the cost is much less than retrofitting advanced ventilation into the HVAC systems for older Class A or Class B or C buildings, Georgescu explained.

Big Ass released results of a study from Innovative Bioanalysis, a California lab that tested the fan against the coronavirus this April.

A cover letter to the testing report ,written by Kevin Noble, COO of Innovative Bioanalysis, states, “It can be concluded that between 10 and 20 minutes there was an overall [pathogen] reduction of 99.99 per cent or greater.”

Intertek, an international testing lab with offices in Western Canada, tested Big Ass’ Haiku-UV-C last April in a 1,000-cubic-foot test chamber, which was exposed to a bacteriophage commonly used as a stand-in for deadlier pathogens. Results showed a 99.9 per cent kill rate on the pathogen within 10 minutes.

Georgescu said that ability to independently remove the COVID-19 pathogens from a single space could negate the cost of new or retrofitted ventilation into an entire office building.

Big Ass has also developed a Clean Air System that uses “bipolar ionization” and much bigger fans – up to 24 feet wide – that Georgescu said could clean pathogens from large 30-foot-high industrial warehouses or other big workspaces. Test results have shown this system is also effective as a COVID-19 killer. He notes that the fans clear pathogens in the space where transmission may occur, rather than in duct systems. 

Susan Bazak, president of Bazak Consulting of Vancouver, who helped develop the BOMA Canada Pathway Back to Work Guide, Commercial Real Estate, Coronavirus and Re-Entry, with the Building Owners and Managers Association of BC., did not comment on the Big Ass fans, but referred instead to industry ventilation standards.

In the BOMA Pathway Back to Work Guide, for example, office owners are encouraged to add high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, which can theoretically remove at least 99.97 per cent of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles from ventilation systems. The HEPA filters must be replaced regularly and disposed of safely to avoid virus contamination.

BOMA notes, however, that some ventilation systems, such as those in older buildings not constructed to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, may not be designed for the higher rated filters.

Frank O'Brien is the editor of Western Canada's biggest commercial real estate newspaper, Western Investor, as well as a contributing editor at West Coast Condominium, real estate contributor to Business in Vancouver and a regular media commentator on real estate investment.
Copyright © Western Investor

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