Integrated Energy Recovery Ventilation and Air Purification System (HEPAiRx)

For adults and children suffering from asthma and other upper respiratory illnesses, clean air can mean relief and feeling better. However, in recent years, energy efficiency requirements have resulted in tighter building construction and renovation. While this has helped conserve energy, a resulting decline in indoor air quality may be a cause for the increase in asthma and upper respiratory illnesses. North Syracuse, NY, company Air Innovations, a SyracuseCoE Silver Partner, believes this situation can be corrected.

Previous funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) allowed Air Innovations to design and develop an air purification system that brings more fresh air into a room without high energy consequences.

The result is an integrated, packaged, portable air conditioner that heats and cools the room, brings in fresh air, filters out pollutants, and creates a positive pressure in the space to keep airborne pollutants from other spaces, such as microorganisms and allergens, from entering the room. The system is designed to take over complete environmental control of a room, such as a bedroom, and reduce airborne particles and gaseous contaminants. By doing so, the bedroom can be isolated from the rest of the house.

With funding from SyracuseCoE, Air Innovations was able to test the Integrated Energy Recovery Ventilator, also called a Ventilating Room Air Purifier and trademarked HEPAiRx®. Working with Clarkson University, two separate studies to evaluate the  air quality and health of asthmatic children were designed and implemented. In the first, 45 units were placed in participants’ bedrooms for an 18-week period. In the second, 20 units were installed and evaluated over a 14-week period.

The studies monitored air quality along with the health of the rooms’ occupants under different situations. The researchers collected information to compare using the unit against not using the unit. Forced Expiratory Volume and exhaled breath samples were collected from the individuals with standard breath sampling equipment. The results indicated reduction in lung inflammation in the subjects using the HEPAiRx®. Air samples were measured showing substantial reductions in the particulate and gaseous contaminant levels. Questionnaires were used to evaluate changes in quality of life such as the use of medication, sleeplessness and sick days. Subjects generally reported better sleep and a reduction in medication.

These two separate studies determined that the unit significantly improved the IAQ and reduced asthma symptoms. Participants were given the option of keeping their units or receiving a cash payment for participation. Most reported improved quality of life for their children, with 95% opting to keep the latest model of HEPAiRx® in the second study. Further studies will be conducted in winter 2010 to determine the medical intervention cost savings of the HEPAiRx®.

“We are fortunate to have won multiple, competitively awarded matching grants from SyracuseCoE, NYSERDA, CenterState CEO and NYSTAR to pursue our dream of helping people, especially children, get some relief from their asthma by using clean and green technologies of fresh air for ventilation and high-efficiency particulate air filtration,” says Larry Wetzel, PE, Chairman of the Board, Air Innovations, Inc.

In December 2009, Air Innovations was named the 9th fastest growing small business in Central Upstate New York. In August 2010, the company was named to Inc. magazine’s list of America’s 5,000 Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies. HEPAiR® is U.S. patented.