Covid 19: An Aircraft Cabin Air Disinfection System for Covid-19

Xi, Fengfeng | $48,000

Ontario Ryerson University 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

The Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted the aerospace industry around the world and Canada is no exception. Aircraft are essential for our long-distance travel but prone to virus infection due to closely packed cabin environment. To combat the Covid-19, a new way of flying will have constant sanitization on the plane for entire flight journey. Though simple solutions such as on-board janitors, periodic sanitizer services and seat distancing can alleviate the problem to a certain extent, they are not effective for cabin air disinfection and the associated costs have increased airfare drastically. Aerosols are regarded as the main source of virus transmission in highly populous areas like aircraft cabins. Though modern aircraft are equipped with advanced ventilation systems to supply clear cabin air, there is no air disinfection system on board. For this reason, Canadian aircraft manufacturers are looking into methods for disinfecting cabin air through air supply lines leading to the cabin. Doing so is to reinstate public confidence in flying and reduce overall flight costs. Owing to the compactness, ion generators emerge to be a viable solution that can disinfect viruses by means of charged ions, a.k.a. cold plasma. The challenge is how to keep a required ion concentration from the location of an ion generator through an air vent into the cabin as ions decay along the travel distance. We propose to investigate three factors: 1) location of an ion generator, 2) permeability of duct material and 3) UV light ion promotion. A prototype system will be developed to have an upstream ion generator that can generate ions for several air vents at different locations. Tests will be carried out to determine an optimal combination of the afore-mentioned three factors. This project will be conducted in collaboration with Bombardier Aviation. The outcome of the project will ensure hygiene-enhanced security on aircraft in this arduous time and for many years to come, with long-lasting and significant impact in reducing risks for the spread of not only COVID- 9, but also other bacterial and viral contaminants in future.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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