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Copper: A Boost of Fresh Air for HVAC Units

February 27th, 2011

Adam Estelle, guest blogger

By Adam Estelle, CDA Project Engineer

Adam Estelle, CDA Project Engineer, attended the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) Conference and Indoor Air Expo 2011 in San Antonio, Feb. 15-17. ACCA is a non-profit association serving more than 60,000 professionals and 4,000 businesses in the HVACR community. The group works together to promote professional contracting, energy efficiency, and healthy indoor living.

Microbial growth in heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems is a growing concern for those who care about improving air quality and efficiency. Earlier this month, the CDA attended the Air Conditioning Contractors of American (ACCA) Conference to provide information on the energy and antimicrobial benefits of copper HVAC components.

Air quality conferences are a relatively new area for the CDA, so we were gratified to find a lot of interest in copper, as a material that can improve both energy efficiency and indoor air quality. We were able to raise awareness in the industry about copper as a continuous and passive antimicrobial engineering material. Copper also has superior thermal conductivity and corrosion resistance, making it more energy efficient when compared to traditional aluminum systems. Studies have shown that surfaces made of copper alloys are effective antimicrobial agents. Copper alloys kill pathogenic bacteria within two hours at room temperature and within a few hours at chilled air (indoor air-conditioning) temperatures.

At the conference, contractors, manufacturers and other interested attendees spoke with us about the use of copper heat exchangers in air handling systems. In contrast to aluminum, odor-causing organisms, including bacteria and mold, do not build up on copper fins, tubing and drip pans. This ensures consistent thermal transfer to the air flowing across the heat exchangers and improved operating efficiencies for the entire system.

The CDA is part of the Copper Air Quality Program, made up of partners in government, industry and academia. The program participants currently are conducting research to evaluate the efficacy of copper components in HVAC systems in both civilian and military settings. For more information on the work we’re doing in antimicrobial research and studies, check out our website, www.copperairquality.org or email me, aestelle@cda.copper.org.

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