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What are the Different Types of Portable Air Filtration?

By Jeri Sullivan
Updated May 17, 2024
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An air filtration system removes pollutants from indoor air. Portable air filtration cleans the air in a single room instead of the entire house. Types of portable air filtration include HEPA air cleaners, ozone ionizers, negative air machines, and ultraviolet purifiers.

High Efficiency Particle Arresting (HEPA) air filtration products work by trapping pollutants and drawing them through the filter using a fan. On the more expensive models, this type of portable air filtration can filter bacteria, viruses, gases, and ammonia through its air filter. In a basic model, bacteria and viruses can be filtered.

Electronic ionizers are another category of portable air filtration and are available in two types. Ozone ionizers work by creating an electrical charge that splits the air molecules. Some of those molecules then form O3, which is ozone. The ozone attaches to germs in the air, such as the germs that cause pneumonia, and also to viruses like chicken pox and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Though high amounts of ozone are a danger to humans, electronic ionizers only produce very small amounts and are only viable for about 20 minutes before converting back to normal oxygen.

Another type of electronic ionizer is the negative air machine. The portable air filtration works by creating negative ions through an electrical process. The negative ions attach to oxygen and other gases, then attract pollutants such as dust, pollen, and smoke. Once attached, the pollutants make the ion too heavy to stay airborne, and it falls to the ground where it can be vacuumed or sucked through the ionizers vent. As this portable air filtration removes pollutants, the odors associated with them are also removed.

Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) is used in conjunction with portable air filtration to destroy molds. It works by reflecting UV radiation onto surfaces that process indoor air, such as cooling coils and ductwork. By killing the mold at the source, it is not filtered into the air.

Photo catalytic oxidation cleaners (PCO) also work with portable air filtration systems. They kill gaseous pollutants and convert them into other compounds that are not harmful to humans. These cleaners work by combining a material with UV light to create a reaction which converts the compounds.

Portable air filtration is an option for homes without central heating and air. It is also often used for work sites and remodeling where there is either no central heating and air present. It may also be used when the in-house heating and air is not sufficient to remove significant amounts of pollutants.

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