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Volatile Organic Compounds

November 23, 2011

 

More than 10 years have passed since the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranked indoor air pollution as one of the top five environmental threats to public health and one of the largest remaining health risks in the United States. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology also noted that 50 percent of all illnesses are either caused or aggravated by poor indoor air quality.  An indoor air environment is a complex soup containing over two hundred different chemicals. These chemicals are emitted from furniture, building materials (fabrics, plywood, paints, carpeting etc.), occupants and certain activities performed within the space. Many of these chemicals, commonly referred to as "volatile organic compounds" (VOCs), are suspected cancer-causing agents. VOCs will negatively impact the well-being of occupants if allowed to accumulate unchecked.

Traditionally, the build-up of VOCs is counteracted by ventilation, the introduction of "fresh" outside air into the building, diluting accumulating contaminants. Frequently, this additional flow of air must be heated or cooled (depending on the season) prior to its introduction into the building, representing a substantial amount of consumed energy.  Also, the ventilation approach relies on good outside air quality, which is not always found in industrial areas, or areas with high levels of vehicular traffic.

New standards and increased awareness of the effect of indoor air quality on health necessitates the engineers and building designers conceptualize and provide cost effective solution to indoor air quality requirements. 

Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERV’s) have become very popular by providing the HVAC designer with an efficient solution to reduce air-conditioning tonnage while enhancing indoor air quality. An Energy Recovery Ventilator is a type of mechanical equipment that features a heat exchanger combined with a ventilation system for providing controlled ventilation into a building. They provide adequate amount of fresh air with simultaneously recovering energy thereby keeping the project and the running cost down to bare minimum. 

The salient features of an ERV can be listed below:

  • An ERV, exchanges the contaminated room air with fresh outdoor air, in the process recovering the energy from the exhaust air stream.
  • The Energy Recovery Ventilator consists of two blowers and an energy recovery device. The two blowers run continuously to exhaust the room air and replace it with an equal amount of fresh outdoor air.
  • The energy recovery device exchanges energy between the two counter flowing exhaust and supply air streams pickings up the sensible or both sensible and latent heat from the cooler air stream and transferring to the warmer air stream or vice versa depending on the conditions.
  • Helps Designers, contractors, building owners and operators to meet IAQ Standard ASHRAE 62.1.2001 and Conserve Energy
  • Enable ASHRAE 62.1.2001 specified ventilation rates without increasing air-conditioning tonnage
  • Reduces the CAPITAL AND OPERATING COST of air-conditioning equipment
  • Ideal for new construction or retrofit applications
  • Meets space limitation requirements/ (could be installed in the false ceiling area)

 
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