Evaluation of different discharging methods on HVAC electret filter media

Min Tang, Drew Thompson, Sheng Chieh Chen, Yun Liang, David Y Pui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Electret filters with electrostatic charges added on fibers are widely used in HVAC system of residential and commercial buildings to mitigate PM2.5 exposure in indoor environments. Filtration applications require the knowledge of minimum filtration efficiency of electret filters under worst condition. To determine the minimum efficiency, different electret discharging methods are used in test standards to eliminate electrostatic effects. This study evaluated the isopropanol (IPA) liquid discharging method in EN 779 and the IPA saturated vapor treatment in ISO 16890. It was found that although both IPA liquid immersion and saturated vapor treatment can significantly remove fiber charge, saturated vapor treatment showed better discharging performance. The charge density of media discharged by IPA liquid immersion and saturated vapor treatment were 2 μC/m2 and 0 μC/m2, respectively. It demonstrated that IPA saturated vapor treatment can completely remove fiber charge, while undesirable fiber charge occurred after being treated by IPA liquid due to interface electrification. The test results of unsaturated vapor treatment indicated that IPA in the phase of vapor was not capable of removing fiber charges. The fact that saturated vapor treatment was more effective than liquid immersion was due to the different discharging process. For saturated vapor treatment, vapor condensed on fiber surface and formed a liquid layer with thickness of 15 nm. This ultra-thin layer of IPA liquid can discharge the fiber charge completely without inducing extra charge after liquid evaporation. This study concluded that discharging method in ISO 16890 should be used in electret filter test.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-214
Number of pages9
JournalBuilding and Environment
StatePublished - Aug 15 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the support of members of the Center for Filtration Research: 3M Corporation , A.O. Smith Company , Applied Materials Inc. , BASF Corporation , Boeing Company , Corning Co. , China Yancheng Environmental Protection Science and Technology City , Cummins Filtration Inc. , Donaldson Company, Inc. , Entegris, Inc. , Ford Motor Company , Guangxi Wat Yuan Filtration System Co., Ltd , MSP Corporation ; Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. , Xinxiang Shengda Filtration Technology Co.,Ltd. , TSI Inc. , W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. , Shigematsu Works Co., Ltd. , and the affiliate member National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) . Parts of this work were carried out in the Minnesota Nano Center that receives partial support from NSF through the NNIN program. Parts of this work were carried out in the Characterization Facility, University of Minnesota, which receives partial support from NSF through the MRSEC program.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Discharging
  • Electret filter
  • Filtration
  • HVAC
  • Isopropanol
  • Particle

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