Helping Canadians breathe easy with Zentek


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What if there was a way to make indoor spaces safer without using more energy or buying new equipment?

Breathing is essential to life and when the air we breathe indoors is compromised, our health is at risk and we are faced with devastating effects caused by viral infections and respiratory diseases. It's clear why this is a top priority for governments and industry and why they are continually looking for simple and effective solutions to improve indoor air quality in buildings and for vehicle occupants.

Nothing brought to light the devastating impacts of respiratory illness as much as the COVID-19 pandemic. The need to breathe cleaner air is more urgent than ever. In September 2021, it was timely for Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) to award a testing contract to Zentek to test their patented ZenGUARD™ Enhanced Air Filters with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC).

ZenGUARD™ for a breath of fresh air

Zentek‘s innovative new air filters utilize a next-generation graphene-silver combination that greatly enhances viral filtration performance in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. They look and operate no differently than traditional air filters and can seamlessly slot into existing HVAC systems, improving viral filtration efficiency without the need for any additional training or any additional modifications to the HVAC system itself. Most importantly, this improved filtration is achieved without an associated increase in pressure drop, leading to an increase in energy use and carbon emissions.

Building an indoor facility to test the filter

The viral filtration efficiency of Zentek's ZenGUARD™ Enhanced Air Filters was measured using an NRC constructed purpose-built modular room to simulate a real-world classroom environment. Testing was performed by Dr. Paul Lebbin, Research Council Officer at the NRC Aerospace Research Centre's Centre for Air Travel Research, with the support from Dr. Grace Zhou and her Indoor Air Quality team at the NRC's Construction Research Centre.

The Test Plan objective was to test ZenGUARD™'s effectiveness on the most common filters used in schools, public and commercial buildings (MERV 8 filters). The test methodology was able to show repeatable results of the technology in an environment where the airborne viral pathogen would thrive (e.g. low humidity, normal room temperature commonly found during winter months).

The NRC put ZenGUARD™ under rigorous testing using very small surrogate virus particles that MERV 8 filters are not designed to remove from the air. In the Test Plan, ZenGUARD™ results had to exceed the most stringent performance objectives to prove the innovation's efficiency. The innovation had to:

  1. achieve a significant net reduction in pathogens compared to its equally rated uncoated filter;
  2. have no impact to air flow or increase in energy consumption;
  3. have no negative impact on air quality in any way; and
  4. require no modifications to existing HVAC systems and no additional capital costs.

Remarkably, all testing objectives were met. Testing showed the ZenGUARD™ technology increased VFE of a standard MERV 8 filter by almost 5 times in a single air exchange, with no impact to airflow rates, far exceeding the ISC's requirements.

Innovative Solutions Canada is an incredibly valuable program for small and medium-sized enterprises in Canada. Borne from the ISC's Testing Stream, ZenGUARD™ can help the world balance safer indoor spaces and building decarbonization. That's exciting. Our unique and important technology received product advancements and validation from Canada's largest and most respected research facility, the National Research Council of Canada. As an SME, this type of testing is invaluable. There are many government departments that rely heavily on testing data from labs such as the NRC that have the knowhow, equipment, and testing capability.

Greg Fenton, CEO, Zentek

ISC opens doors for Zentek

At its core, the ISC Testing Program seeks to identify, validate, and support adoption of innovations that can benefit Canadians. Coupled with NRC's rigorous testing, ZenGUARD™ Enhanced HVAC Filters have received the validation they need to be adopted widely across the country following final approval from the Pest Management Regulatory Agency. Federal programs like ISC, coupled with the NRC's testing expertise, have allowed Zentek to do business with other federal and provincial government departments and agencies. The company is also now eligible to become an exclusive supplier of this type of innovation directly to the Government of Canada through Public Services Procurement Canada.

This demonstrates how innovative Canadian companies can partner with leading government organizations to bring forward much-needed technologies focused on improving people's health while limiting environmental impact. It equally demonstrates the value of supporting homegrown companies and their employees, which in turn benefits our Canadian economy.

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