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Product Review 3: Air Purification

IT’S BETTER TO BREATHE THE AIR IN OUTER SPACE THAN THE AIR IN YOUR HOUSE …….. HUH? – August 2005

WESTFIELD, NJ: Of course, there is no air in Outer Space – it’s airless (the “less” in airless causes to spring to mind my then three-year old daughter’s solution some years ago to the realities of the cemetery; but, more on that later). However, there is a Space Station floating around up there and the very best technology is employed to scrub the air in the Space Station to ensure absolute quality.”Scientists faced some unique problems in providing fresh, clean healthy air in the Space Shuttle and Space Station,” states Keith Petersen of The Eardly T. Petersen Company in Westfield, “There is no way in Outer Space to “open a window to get some fresh air”; yet, the air must be maintained in as pristine a state as is possible.”

“First,” continued Mr. Petersen, “essential oxygen in Space is made available through a process called electrolysis. Solar panels provide electricity which then splits water into hydrogen and oxygen – much the same way on earth as photosynthesis by plants makes sugars and releases oxygen into the atmosphere.”

“However, as on earth, there are a myriad of pollutants that threaten the quality of the breathable air inside these Spacecraft. These can broadly be broken down, just like here on earth, into the categories of particles, chemicals and microbes.”

“Also,” says Mr. Petersen, “NASA has made important strides in growing green plants in microgravity. These plants can be a potential source of both essential oxygen and vegetable crops. However, due to the chemical realities of plant life, in the enclosed chambers of a Space Station the plants would literally poison themselves by the off-gassing of something called ethylene. How then to solve the above problems?”The answer involves a multi-faceted approach; however, one of the primary technologies used was that of Photo-Catalytic Oxidation. Without being unduly technical, the process mimicked Nature, and through the use of natural oxidation provided a way to “scrub” the indoor (air) environment to rid it of unwanted contaminants. The process used no chemicals and worked so well that it was adopted into the Space Station.Mr. Petersen elucidated (some might say, “obfuscated”) further, “This initial technology has gone through an evolution to the end result that an industry leader in the field – a company called RGF Environmental Group – now provides a proprietary 3rd generation technology called Radiant Catalytic Ionization. Using an RCI cell a broad spectrum UV lamp is surrounded by an open hydrated honeycomb matrix cell that is coated with a proprietary, quad-metallic, hydrophilic coating (techy, huh?). The metals involved comprise Titanium Dioxide, Rhodium, Silver and Copper. The end result is that a purifying “plasma” is produced that, in the indoor air environment, “scrubs the air” and destroys unwanted pollutants including microbiologicals.”

“These are, perhaps, boring details,” admits Mr. Petersen. “But, it is a leading edge technology – and, certainly, vastly superior to the run-of-the-mill attempts to clean the air by using traditional (read “filtration”) methods. The allergy/asthma issues today are staggering, and what is noteworthy is that this technology is available for home use in a product line made by a leading manufacturer – a company called EcoQuest International.  EcoQuest is the world’s largest manufacturer of indoor air purification products, and the Radiant Catalytic Ionization cell spoken of above is exactly what is used in their flagship product – an indoor air purifier called the “Fresh Air”.” This is the accreditation by Kevin C. Cook, Space Foundation Director of SpaceAwareness Program, : “EcoQuest has been awarded use of the Certified Space Technology seal because they have effectively applied space based technology to address the real and growing concern of indoor air pollution.”  That’s an impressive accolade.”Thus, the Fresh Air indoor air purifier duplicates the cleansing power of Nature outdoors as provided by the Sun, rain, wind and thunderstorm. One compact unit (12″ x 9″ x 12″ – weighing only 16 lbs.) typically serves an entire house or office environment up to 3,000 square feet. It is not a filter. Using natural, friendly oxidizers and ionization these wonderful machines will effectively purify an indoor environment. The intelligent choice is to try to control the pollutants themselves in the indoor environment; not, to treat the results (i.e., medicate). There are a variety of necessary steps to take to control these indoor allergens – the 1st of which is to effectively purify the air that we breathe (it is estimated we take about 29,000 breathes every day). Purify the indoor air effectively as they do in the Space Station, advises Mr. Petersen, and hopefully the problems begin to take care of themselves.”Oh, yes – the three-year old daughter and the cemetery,” says Mr. Petersen. “She asked me about a rather large cemetery as we drove by and why all the headstones were there. I told her that that was where people’s bodies were put when they died. As she saw the backhoe digging a fresh grave she said forthrightly, `It’s too much – they should put up a sign that says “die-less”.’ A three-year old’s simplistic solution to halting the death process; however, we would like to think that we can attach a “sign” to the Fresh Air which reads – helps make indoor environments “contaminant-less”.”For questions on the Fresh Air technology or questions on Indoor Environmental issues, visit The Eardly T. Petersen Company at 224 Elmer Street in Westfield; or contact them at 908-232-5723 or vist on the web at http://www.etpetersen.com.