Leveraging on IOT-Enabled EC Fans for Better Indoor Air Quality Management

By ebm-papst SEA

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people’s lifestyle, the global economy and the environment on an unprecedented level. People are now spending 80-90% of their time in confined indoor spaces, staying indoors for longer period of time and working more from home.

As a result, the measurement and management of indoor air quality is in the spotlight now widely considered to be among the most important health & safety concern for building operations.

An adequate ventilation rate is necessary for reducing the infection risk in confined spaces such as offices, residential areas, public buildings like malls, restaurants, museums, and public transportation[1].

Dilution of the contaminants inside confined spaces should be the prime consideration to reduce exposure risk and maintain a healthy environment as it is common knowledge of how quickly and dramatically indoor air quality can change over the course of hours and minutes.

In fact, a recent study suggested that enhancing indoor air quality (IAQ) could be as effective in reducing aerosol transmission of viruses as vaccinating 50-60% of the population. As tenants tentatively emerge back into their places of work, landlords are challenged with optimising the operational performance of buildings to the greatest extent possible, in conjunction with the enactment of behavioural change, to minimise risk and give their tenants peace of mind.

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/office-buildings.html

Buildings are running blind

However, most buildings are running blind, unable to tell occupants how often indoor air is actually being changed or how clean it is. Without any sort of data, buildings are being ventilated as much as possible, often exposing occupants to temperature, humidity and outdoor pollutant levels that compromise the immune system, all the while increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Responses are based on best guess estimates and hopeful checklists.

One solution is to use EC fan and integrating it with IoT. Leveraging on this technology will enable organizations to optimize their operations at all levels, improve decision making, and achieve several benefits. 

Fig. 1: Fans from ebm-papst use sensors to supply a wealth of data to the ebm-papst Building Connect platform,
thereby helping to monitor and control indoor air quality.

For instance, data from IoT-enabled EC fans provide buildings owners and tenants with a level of response and control that was previously impossible. For instance, rapidly modulating fan speed up to remove surges of airborne pollutants indoor right as they emerge.

Connected local and central air systems can be optimized to balance clean-air rates with outdoor air delivery, while reducing energy costs. Furthermore, air changes and air cleaning rates can be accurately measured and managed.

Data collected also allows building owners and tenants to factor in actual measured air cleaning rates while cross checking results with particle counts. This enables building operators to decouple CO2 levels from estimates of aerosolized virus concentrations and bring building ventilation rates back into balance. 

Fig. 2: Data gathered from buildings can be turned into value-creating actions.

IoT- enabled, high-speed performance building fan

ebm-papst, the German manufacturer of electric motors and fans, and its digital enterprise neo, have been developing an IoT-enabled, high-performance building fan, capable of delivering a wealth of data to advanced building systems, including rpm, vibration, noise, air speed, volume, pressure and most importantly, quality of the air flow

One of the products that they are introducing into the market is the RadiCube, a smart EC fan that is powered by IoT technology and energy-saving EC motors. The RadiCube comprises of ebm-papst’s signature EC centrifugal fans and a cube-like casing made of extruded aluminum and is capable of discharge in all directions.

The RadiCube is available in two versions - RadiCube and RadiCube Pro, and is designed to be an integrated solution powered by energy-saving EC motors. In order to further optimise the use of the RadiCube, IoT sensors can be installed as well.

Fig. 3: The two versions of ebm-papst RadiCube box fan

For instance, by using ebm-papst’s IoT platform solution to collect data from the RadiCube, surrounding sensors and even external devices and sources can enable the RadiCube to be controlled using Artificial Intelligence (AI). These AI algorithms can “learn” the most optimal way to operate the RadiCube within its installed environment, delivering optimal energy efficiency and air delivery performance.

Fig. 4: IoT-enabled RadiCube box fan 

In air handling units (AHUs), the RadiCube (Pro) fans, with its integrated outer casing, serve as an all-in-one package deal for small AHUs. It is ideal for situations that require a single fan.

The RadiCube (Pro) fans can also be quickly installed to remove unwanted odors and fumes from a specified space, which is essential for maintaining indoor air quality. They can also be used to control supply fans, which are mainly used to move air into a specified space.

This solution has already been rolled out and implemented in the hospitality and institutional segments with the end goal being clean air that supports proper functioning of the immune system, delivered at low energy levels.

Through the use of these IoT-enabled, high-speed performance building fans, coupled with the use of data collected by sensors, facility managers / building owners can hopefully achieve better energy efficiency, improve their social responsibility and sustainability, and reduce carbon footprint in their building operations as the world emerges from the shadows of COVID-19.

For more information please visit: www.ebmpapst.com.sg


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