FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – It’s new technology getting installed in school ventilation systems all over the world to combat coronavirus. Pinpoint bipolar ionization is about to undergo some special research and testing at Fresno State.
Local ventilation engineers believe the technology could prove useful with wildfire smoke pollution and cutting cooling costs in extreme heat.
Mechanical engineer Jon Schlundt works for Teter Architects and Engineers in Fresno. He designs air and climate installations for facilities like schools, including new pinpoint bipolar ionization technology, “The technology is no bigger than this little coaster… It’s mounted inside your equipment. It has two wire leads on it that gets tapped off your electrical feed in that equipment already.“
Ionization technology has helped sterilize the air in industrial environments for decades. It’s wasn’t safe for general use because of the dangerous amounts of ozone generated. A more recent development called “pinpoint” or “needlepoint” bipolar ionization technology has eliminated this problem through precise control. The technology is in high demand right now because it’s also proven effective against the Coronavirus.
Schlundt says, “One of the solutions to the pandemic was open windows, open doors, get that fresh air in there so you can keep air circulation high. It’s hard to that when it’s smoky outside and very hazardous to let all that smoke into your house or classroom setting or into an office. How do we combat that is a big part.”
Schlundt is now leading a local industry group and partnered with Fresno State to better research the technology with an eye to particular benefits in the Valley. “We’re really focused on the Central Valley. Smoke, pollen… Then why can’t we also use that to increase energy efficiencies, get lower-rated filters to perform better.”
Coronavirus has been the primary subject for most testing. Research on other pollutants such as wildfire smoke has not caught up. Neither have studies on how the technology can be further incorporated in heating and cooling systems to streamline efficiency. Now that science has answered the important coronavirus questions, Schlundt believes it’s a great time to explore how bipolar ionization can benefit Valley residents — especially as so many schools and offices now have it.
You may be more familiar with ionization than you know.
A wool sock in a clothes dryer often ends up sticking to other fabrics because of static electricity. In ionization technology, electricity is used to charge oxygen atoms and attract them to particles which makes them clump together. This makes it easier to remove very small particles from the air.
The test equipment will be delivered to Fresno State next week. Schlundt says, “I think a lot of us are excited to see what the results are going to show and we’re expecting to see those results in the June to July timeframe.”