Evaluation of filter media performance: Correlation between high and low challenge concentration tests for toluene and formaldehyde (ASHRAE RP-1557)

Chuan He, W. Chen, Kwanghoon Han, B. Guo, J. Pei, J. S. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


To guide the selection of gas phase filtration media in the air cleaning devices, it is important to understand and estimate the media performance under usage concentrations. Filters for improving indoor air quality are typically subject to low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) concentration levels (e.g., ∼50 ppb), while the current standard tests per ASHRAE 145.1 (ANSI/ASHRAE 2008). are performed at relatively high challenge concentrations (∼1-100 ppm level). The primary objective of this study was to determine if media that perform well at the high concentration test condition would also perform well under the low concentration. The secondary objective was to investigate if and how existing models of filtration by media bed can be applied to extrapolate the results from the high concentration tests to the low concentration condition. Experiments and simulations were carried out at both high concentrations (100 ppm for toluene and 1 ppm for formaldehyde) and low concentrations (0.05 ppm for toluene and formaldehyde) for six selected filtration media. The results show that (1) the high concentration test data were able to differentiate the relative performance among the media at the low concentration properly, confirming the validity of using ASHRAE 145.1 (ANSI/ASHRAE 2008) for relative performance comparison; (2) significant initial breakthrough observed at high concentration tests of large pellet media was not present at the low concentration tests, indicating the dependency of the adsorption capability of the sorbent media on the concentration level as well as the possible "by-pass" effects (i.e., not all the VOC molecules in the air stream had the same chance to contact with the sorbent media); and (3) existing models need to be improved by incorporating the concentration dependency of the partition coefficient and the by-pass effect in order to predict the breakthrough curve at low concentrations properly. Such an improved model was proposed, evaluated with the measured data, and was found to be promising for physical sorbent, but requires further development for chemical, catalytic sorbent and large pellet sorbent. The study provides previously unavailable experimental data and new insight into the behavior of the filtration media for volatile organic compounds as well as evidence in support of the application of ASHRAE Standard 145.1 (ANSI/ASHRAE 2008) for media performance evaluation. © 2014

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)508-521
Number of pages14
JournalHVAC and R Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction


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