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Aug. 7, 2020
HVAC Elements wasn’t thinking about helping its customers fight a pandemic when it decided to offer a new product earlier this year – but the timing couldn’t have been better.
In recent months, demand for the product by Global Plasma Solutions has been so strong the Sioux Falls company’s schedule is stacked with installations.
The device uses a process called needlepoint bipolar ionization to generate a high-voltage field that creates positive and negative ions. The ions then travel through the air stream and actively target contaminants in the space, stripping them of hydrogen and reducing them to harmless compounds, according to G&R Controls, which is part of HVAC Elements.
“These ions ‘live’ 60 seconds, and they seek and destroy throughout the space,” said Dave Heibult, president of G&R Controls. “That happens all the time as long as the fan is running.”
The company was introduced to the product by a customer that used it to deal with issues involving helicopter exhaust in a building.
“We weren’t looking at anything COVID-related at the time,” said Ryan O’Connor, president of the O’Connor Co., which also is part of HVAC Elements.
“We said we’d learn more about it, and then COVID hit, and we started researching this technology and found out it inactivates viruses.”
The plasma solution has applications well beyond COVID-19. It has been proven to reduce or eliminate mold, viruses and allergens, and reduce odors, the company said.
Its products have more than 30 patents and are validated for zero ozone emissions. In independent lab tests, it was exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19, and in 10 minutes, 84.2 percent of viral particles became inactive. In 15 minutes, it was 92.6 percent, and at 30 minutes, 99.4 percent of viral particles became inactive, according to a study conduced by the U.S. Air Force at Innovative BioAnalysis.
“For any place that houses a lot of employees or students, high-occupancy buildings, this is the best solution out there, we believe,” Heibult said.
“We’ve got it at higher-ed, K-12, health care facilities, office space, all kinds of facilities.”
Look’s Marketplace recently installed a unit and advertises it on its door.
Other restaurants also are interested, Heibult said.
“It works with all the existing (HVAC) stuff that’s out there,” he said. “There are people taking advantage of the times we’re in, and there’s misinformation, and we wanted to take care of our customers with accurate engineering and data-driven solutions, and we did our homework.”
The units work in homes, too, Heibult and O’Connor said. The company ordered more than 100 units for employees, friends and family, and installed them in its Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Fargo offices.
While the demand has been huge, HVAC Elements has been able to get enough devices to meet it, O’Connor said.
“As you can imagine, GPS has blown up over the last six months, but they’ve brought on twice the capacity. They’re air-freighting everything, and they have stock still available, so we’ve been able to get everything in two to three weeks.”
A Sioux Falls company wasn’t trying to help fight a pandemic when it brought this new product on board this year — but the timing was perfect.