Estimating the effects of ambient conditions on the performance of UVGI air cleaners

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Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) uses UVC radiation produced by low pressure mercury vapor lamps to control biological air contaminants. Ambient air velocity and temperature have a strong effect on lamp output by influencing the lamp surface cold spot temperature. In-duct UVGI systems are particularly susceptible to ambient effects due to the range of velocity and temperature conditions they may experience. An analytical model of the effect of ambient conditions on lamp surface temperature was developed for three common lamp types in cross flow from a convective-radiative energy balance assuming constant surface temperature. For one lamp type, a single tube standard output lamp, UVC output and cold spot temperature data were obtained under typical in-duct operating conditions. Over an ambient temperature range of 10-32.2 °C and an air velocity range of 0-3.25 m/s, measured cold spot temperature varied from 12.7 to 41.9 °C and measured lamp output varied by 68% of maximum. Surface temperatures predicted by the heat transfer model were 6-17 °C higher than corresponding measured cold spot temperatures, but were found to correlate well with cold spot temperature via a two-variable linear regression. When corrected using this relationship, the simple model predicted the cold spot temperature within 1 °C and lamp UVC output within ±5%. To illustrate its practical use, the calibrated lamp model was employed in a simulation of the control of a contaminant in a single-zone ventilation system by an in-duct UVGI device. In this example, failure to account for the impact of ambient condition effects resulted in under-prediction of average space concentration by approximately 20% relative to a constant output system operating at maximum UVC output.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1362-1370
Number of pages9
JournalBuilding and Environment
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Building and Construction


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