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RESEARCH + DESIGN

“Hy-Phy” Indoor Bio-remediation

Funded by IHBE Industry Consortium

“Hy-Phy” acts as a purifier for indoor spaces, where people spend more than 90% of their time. In these indoor spaces, building occupants are likely to have the greatest contact with various pollutants, placing them at risk of infection, diminished cognitive function, productivity and well-being. The  “Hy-Phy” concept incorporates a high density of hydroponic Azolla plants inside an airtight chamber with mechanical air movement across the roots to reach maximum removal efficiencies. 

Evidence is mounting that SARS-CoV-2 (that causes COVID19) lingers in the air indoors for long periods of time and poses an infection risk to nearby individuals.  This evidence is corroborating what scientists have been saying for months: coronavirus has airborne transmission potential. Therefore, wearing masks, social (spatial) distancing, and supplying buildings with more outdoor fresh air are highly recommended as precautionary measures to slow down the community spread. However, for office employees who spend most of their time indoors not all these methods can contribute to increased health and safety, because outdoor air supply, even at high air change rates per hour (ACH), for example >12 ACH, does not necessarily provide sufficient protection. Current average ACH for office buildings is ~0.7 and HVAC systems are not likely able to reach substantially higher levels, especially during periods of extreme outdoor temperatures, when increasing outdoor air fraction and ventilation creates difficulty maintaining indoor thermal conditions. Therefore, our research solution called HyPhy offers a different approach.  HyPhy is a personal clean air pod where a micro-fern called Azolla is integrated into systems furniture to provide personalized air circulation and purification.  The HyPhy modules contribute to pathogen decay through modifying air movement indoors, adding humidity, treating the air with UV lights, and natural bioremediation. We call this personalized approach, “virtual ventilation,” since indoor air is improved without adding additional outside air and based on our preliminary findings and existing literature, we estimate that HyPhy air purifying pods can contribute to ~400 ppm reduction on indoor CO2 concentration which could result in a ~30 % increase in occupants’ cognitive function and decision-making performance.  HyPhy personal air pods decrease risk of spreading pathogens indoors and provides localized fresh air to support human health and performance.