---for developing high-efficient inactivation of airborne viruses using a microwave-enabled air filtration system

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Dr. Zhang group received NJIT’s 2022 Technology Innovation Translation and Acceleration (TITA) Program Funding ($75,000)

 Wen's Research Group​

The COVID-19 pandemic sparked public health concerns and urgent demands for technologies to combat transmission of the airborne viruses. The widely accepted, existing methods that have success in preventing infection via airborne transmission include physical barriers and filtration to capture and trap the air pollutants, which usually do not inactivate microbial agents such as bacteria or viruses. Moreover, most air filters for residential, commercial, and industrial buildings are designed to only capture large airborne particles, e.g., dusts, mold spores, and bacteria, but not to target on viral aerosols that are sub-micrometers in size.

Dr. Zhang’s group develops an innovative microwave-responsive catalysts that have been incorporated into the air filtration process to inactivate the captured microbial agents. Microwave responsive catalysts coated on commercial HVAC filters can absorb microwave energy and produce “hotpots” and reactive species on filter surface. The high temperature “hotpots” and reactive radical species enhance pathogen disinfection. The preliminary results show that the removal of bacteriophage MS2, a surrogate virus that mimics pathogenic viral properties, could be removed by up to 100% on catalyst coated filters under microwave irradiation. This reactive air filtration system could be used in hospitals, commercial or residential buildings and transportation systems (e.g., train/airplane/ship or stations). Besides viral species, a broad range of pathogens such as mold spores and bacteria in bioaerosols could also be inactivated.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand of novel air purifiers that provide anti-bacterial and anti-viral functions has grown rapidly. The successful commercialization of this technology has meaningful impacts on the efficient removal of airborne pathogens to reduce the spread of infectious diseases and thus reduce the risk of public health. Moreover, this new concept or design of microwave-enabled reactive air filtration could foster new business innovation and opportunities for commercialization and economic growth.

Wen Zhang, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE

Principal Investigator

Phone: (973) 596-5520 
Fax: (973) 596-5790
Email: wen.zhang@njit.edu

Office Location: Colton Hall 211

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