Net Zero Energy Air Filtration: Innovative Filter Media Applications for Improved Indoor Air Quality and Energy Efficiency

EPA Grant Number: SU836136
Title: Net Zero Energy Air Filtration: Innovative Filter Media Applications for Improved Indoor Air Quality and Energy Efficiency
Investigators: Day, Julia
Institution: Kansas State University
EPA Project Officer: Sergeant, Anne
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2016
Project Amount: $14,981
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2015) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Awards , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Sustainability , P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment


The technical challenge proposed for this research is to conceptually design a net-zero energy air filtration device/method that reduces energy use in buildings and increases indoor air quality for occupants. To maximize sustainable outcomes, this design solution will utilize or dual-purpose existing resources. For example, sunlight can be harnessed as an energy source for a filtration device and can also be used for photocatalytic decontamination of airborne particles. This innovative filtration concept, once further developed, has potential application in both existing and new commercial buildings, as well as naturally and mechanically ventilated buildings. In addition, increasing overall air quality in buildings may positively affect long-term respiratory health.

As minimum ventilation rate standards continue to increase for high performance homes, it is critical to mitigate negative energy impacts to meet sustainability goals. As such, there is a need for net-zero air filtration, which will be addressed through our interdisciplinary and multifaceted technical and scientific approach to this problem.


The proposed project will explore new and innovative design approaches for providing improved air quality through net-zero air filtration. Both the filter media construction and the method for powering the filter will be examined. The ultimate goal is to discover and develop alternatives to traditional high-energy consumption ventilation methods. The proposed project relates to the three pillars of sustainability in the following ways: first, the proposed project will examine new ways of filtering harmful pollutants to improve indoor air quality, which ultimately has positive effects on human health (social/people); second, the development of a net-zero energy air filtration method also has favorable economic implications in the form of both energy and cost savings since traditional mechanical ventilation methods require a great deal of energy (and thereby money) to operate (economic/prosperity); and third, the proposed design solution does not require any energy from outside utility sources for operation since it will rely on solar energy and natural convection; therefore, the net-zero air filter will not contribute to any additional environmental stressors (i.e. greenhouse gas emissions) derived from energy production or operation (environmental/planet).

Expected Results:

The expected outputs of the project include: 1) innovative conceptual design solutions to the posed technical challenge of net-zero energy filtration, 2) basic prototyping or simulation models of the proposed solutions (e.g., a prediction model for air filtration, simulations, or study models of a designed object), 3) a report documenting conceptual solutions for the proposed project, and 4) a design presentation.

Supplemental Keywords:

green building, alternative construction material, architectural design, green energy, energy conservation, net zero energy, improved indoor air quality