As cold and flu season combines with high levels of COVID-19 transmission, the need for safe, clean air in indoor spaces has never been more important. In preparation for the added risk (and more time spent indoors as the weather gets colder), Honeywell has expanded its Healthy Buildings Air Quality offering with the release Honeywell electronic air cleaners (EACs) with UV systems and a new line of IAQ sensors, designed to improve and measure IAQ in commercial buildings.

“More people are paying attention to air quality and the importance of creating healthier environments in the spaces we use for work, school, entertainment, and travel,” said Manish Sharma, vice president and CTO of Honeywell Building Technologies. “Building owners are looking for ways to create safer, cleaner air to instill occupant confidence as well as attract future commercial tenants, even in the new normal.

“But this goes beyond the pandemic,” he continued. “What the pandemic has done is push this topic to the top of the list, when before it was getting medium priority compared to energy consumption. And I don’t believe this will go away anytime. This is going to continue to be an area where a lot of innovation is going to happen. We will see many more innovative ways of measuring and deploying the technology for getting the best indoor air quality.”

Honeywell’s EACs with UV, designed to remove impurities from the air and provide filtration and disinfection without a significant pressure drop, provide filtration and disinfection with one system. The EACs use an electric charge to help the removal of solid and liquid impurities from the air without impeding air flow, while the UV system emits ultraviolet light to damage the DNA structure of certain microbes at the cellular level and inactivate various viral, bacterial, and fungal organisms.

The EACs with UV help clean the air in the supply line before reaching the coil, resulting in a cleaner coil that supports better heat transfer. Suitable for retrofits, property upgrades, and new construction, they can be installed upstream of the supply air before cooling/heating coils inside a commercial HVAC system, without the need to remove old equipment and install a new system entirely — and with minimal pressure drop.

“Basically you have stopped the pathogens at the electronic air cleaner level,” said Sharma. “You have the UV light to disinfect them.”

As an added benefit, avoiding pressure drop means avoiding increased energy consumption and wear and tear on the equipment. The system also offers a MERV 14 level of ventilation.

The new Honeywell IAQ sensors improve IAQ without changing HVAC infrastructure. They help building owners better determine a building’s environmental state and air quality status and allow them to take corrective actions through the building management system (BMS) without a need to rip and replace existing sensors.

“We’re talking to hundreds of customers who are navigating these concerns right now and working with them to update their building systems to better protect occupants,” said Sharma. “It doesn’t always have to be a complicated process of ripping out old equipment and starting from scratch but can be a straightforward HVAC upgrade with modifications that address specific concerns.”

The new Honeywell sensor lineup includes their Particulate Matter Sensor PM2.5, Total Volatile Organic Compound (TVOC) Sensor, and All-in-One IAQ Sensor. They detect even the smallest particles, volatile compounds, and other key metrics, monitoring air quality in real-time and identifying systems that aren't working properly.

The PM2.5 sensor detects particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers and smaller, using an optical sensor based on laser scattering principles. TVOC refers to the total concentration of multiple airborne VOCs present in the air at a specific time. Concentration of VOCs can be up to five times higher indoors than outdoors, demonstrating the need for sensing devices, filtration, and ventilation strategies as part of the BMS. The Honeywell All-in-One IAQ sensor is a single unit consisting of a multi-sensor suite including temperature, relative humidity, CO2, PM2.5, and TVOC, focusing on overall thermal comfort as well as air quality. The optimal range of temperature and humidity are known to reduce growth and spread of infectious bio-aerosols and pathogens. The sensor can be used to cover multiple air quality factors to communicate healthy building status and enable the appropriate actions with the BMS.

Honeywell’s new EACs and IAQ sensors are the latest in a suite of offerings that focus on creating healthier buildings. Honeywell recently announced upgrades to its Pro-Watch and MAXPRO Network Video Recorders and Video Management Systems solutions, which use analytics and AI to identify if building occupants are complying with guidelines around social distancing and wearing masks.

These technologies are already being used in Honeywell’s global offices, including Bangalore, Atlanta, Shanghai, Phoenix, and Bracknell. Per the company, they will play a major role in allowing its nearly 4,000 employees return to work safely.

“We want to get the real-time experience of installation, usage, and outcome,” Sharma said. “We purposefully selected the global offices to ensure that we understand the global needs, global requirements, and [what] could be some changes based on the different geographies.”