Far and Beyond Impact of ESTCP– Going from Nanofiber-based HVAC Air Filters to Face Masks

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) owns nearly 300,000 buildings across its 500 installations worldwide, accounting for nearly 30% of DoD’s total energy use. According to the Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment  Annual Energy Management and Resilience Report (AEMRR) for Fiscal Year 2018, DoD spent approximately $3.5 billion on energy to power, heat, and cool its buildings. Reducing the operating costs of buildings by installing more energy efficient technologies and improving maintenance practices can free up funding to improve the security and resilience of critical energy systems. ESTCP is currently demonstrating an innovative air filter technology that not only reduces the annual operation and maintenance (O&M) cost of heating ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, but it also delivers cleaner air to occupied spaces.

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The ESTCP project titled  Nanofiber-based Low Energy Consuming HVAC Air Filters led by Dr. Jayesh Doshi of eSpinTechnologies Inc., is demonstrating a novel nanofiber-based HVAC air filtration system to reduce energy consumption and overall operational cost of conditioning air in buildings. The demonstration is measuring air filtration system performance and air filter energy consumption by using the differential pressure across the filters, the flow velocity, temperature and humidity of the air passing through the filters and the dust holding capacity of the filters.  

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Additionally, the team will measure indoor air quality and air filter efficiency via particle counters placed upstream and downstream of the filters and report counts of particulate matter having diameters less than 10 microns and less than 2.5 microns (PM10 and PM2.5, respectively). The demonstration is performing a side-by-side comparison of the nanofiber filters and commercial off-the-shelf filters of the same minimum efficient reporting value (MERV) rating.  Initial results are promising, showing a reduction in energy use, longer useful life and improved air filtration.  

Data collection is ongoing and the Final Report is expected in early 2021, although this schedule may slip because eSpin Technologies has been busy contributing to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.  To support the dire need for personal protective equipment (PPE) across the country, eSpin has responded by applying their technology and manufacturing capacity to produce much-needed face masks for use by the frontline responders, medical community and general public.  They modified their air filter pleating machines to produce pleated face masks and are currently producing about 9000 nanofiber face masks per day and shipping them to hospitals and healthcare professionals across the U.S.

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They have also developed washable, sterilizable face mask material and an air purifier with HEPA filter as a device for shelters, PODS, and/or temporary hospitals.  Their efforts have been recognized and mentioned in their local newspaper,  Chattanooga Times Free Press

This example displays the impact and reach of ESTCP above and beyond the intended application and use cases. ESTCP is proud of the work and progress made by eSpin and their efforts to help and support the nation in this unprecedented time. 

For more information on this ESTCP project, check out the  project webpage. The demonstration results will be summarized in the Final Report and posted on the project webpage upon the completion of the demonstration.

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