Army wins patent for HVAC system with potential to combat COVID-19

Army wins patent for HVAC system with potential to combat COVID-19

February 3, 2021

The U.S. Army was issued a 20-year utility patent on February 2 for indoor ventilation modeling and control software for reducing the concentration of airborne contaminants like viruses, potentially including COVID-19.

The intelligent HVAC system as it’s labeled in U.S. Patent 10,907,847 was invented by Mark D. Ginsberg from the Construction Engineering Research Lab, a division of the Army Corps of Engineer’s Engineer Research and Development Center located in Champaign, Illinois.

“Generally speaking, a structure’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (‘HVAC’) system is primarily responsible for distributing air throughout the structure,” according to the new patent. “Unfortunately, airborne contaminants may be spread along with the air. Some such contaminants may be deliberately introduced by acts of terrorism as the anthrax attacks of 2001 illustrated. Even in peacetime, HVAC systems may spread the chemical or biological contaminants that contribute to ‘sick building syndrome.'”

Benefits of the iHVAC system include:

* Near-real-time actionable data on system breaches and the introduction of potentially harmful contaminants into a structure’s HVAC system

* Precise calculations of airborne pollutant flow paths and recommendations on immediate solutions to keep occupants safe

* Efficient computing and comparing of multiple possibilities to optimize response and outcomes

Ginsberg explained his algebra and logic in a 2015 paper for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency titled “Bioprotection of facilities,” which he co-authored with Alexander Bui, an air specialist now at Chevron.

In August 2020, Ginsberg authored a new technical report that everyone should read, Bioprotection of Facilities From SARS CoV-2 (COVID-19), and believes his technology can lessen the severity of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“To enhance Army resilience, we conclude by suggesting further development of human-preset, sensor-controlled systems capable of near-real-time adaptation to particle counts. For example, the laser imaging technique of Fig. 2 could inform the HVAC system if outside or recirculated air is currently cleaner at the most vulnerable particle sizes.”

In cooperation with the Army’s technology transfer specialists, Christie Bell, a certified licensing professional at TechLink, is seeking companies interested in leveraging the Army’s R&D into a commercially successful product for widespread use.

Bell recently interviewed Ginsberg and began laying the groundwork for a tech transfer partnership between industry and the Army via a patent license.

“This technology has strong potential as a COVID mitigating system,” said Bell, who noted that Ginsberg has another related invention known as the “Architectural CAD software with contaminant-flow calculator.“

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