Collection of biological and non-biological particles by new and used filters made from glass and electrostatically charged synthetic fibers

P. C. Raynor, B. G. Kim, G. Ramachandran, M. R. Strommen, J. H. Horns, A. J. Streifel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Synthetic filters made from fibers carrying electrostatic charges and fiberglass filters that do not carry electrostatic charges are both utilized commonly in heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. The pressure drop and efficiency of a bank of fiberglass filters and a bank of electrostatically charged synthetic filters were measured repeatedly for 13 weeks in operating HVAC systems at a hospital. Additionally, the efficiency with which new and used fiberglass and synthetic filters collected culturable biological particles was measured in a test apparatus. Pressure drop measurements adjusted to equivalent flows indicated that the synthetic filters operated with a pressure drop less than half that of the fiberglass filters throughout the test. When measured using total ambient particles, synthetic filter efficiency decreased during the test period for all particle diameters. For particles 0.7-1.0 μm in diameter, efficiency decreased from 92% to 44%. It is hypothesized that this reduction in collection efficiency may be due to charge shielding. Efficiency did not change significantly for the fiberglass filters during the test period. However, when measured using culturable biological particles in the ambient air, efficiency was essentially the same for new filters and filters used for 13 weeks in the hospital for both the synthetic and fiberglass filters. It is hypothesized that the lack of efficiency reduction for culturable particles may be due to their having higher charge than non-biological particles, allowing them to overcome the effects of charge shielding. The type of particles requiring capture may be an important consideration when comparing the relative performance of electrostatically charged synthetic and fiberglass filters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-62
Number of pages12
JournalIndoor Air
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2008


  • Air filters
  • Efficiency
  • Electret
  • Heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning
  • Microorganisms


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