Image of medical office where the Tri-Kleen 500UV vacuum air filter system is being used
In record-breaking time, Tri-Dim and ebm-papst jointly developed the portable Tri-Kleen 500UV vacuum air filter system (photo: Tri-Dim).

The quality of interior air has been gaining in importance since Covid-19. Yet, the increase in coronavirus infections has meant that demand for solutions that allow efficient and, most importantly, flexible air filtering has grown even faster. Nilesh Tharval, Manager of Advanced Technology at Mann+Hummel USA reports: “When the first wave of coronavirus reached the USA, Tri-Dim received numerous inquiries from hospitals, health authorities and medical practices all over the country. We knew we had to supply a really good product quickly.”

No chance for the virus

The core idea: A portable air filter system that generates a vacuum in any closed treatment or examination room to prevent air contaminated with viruses from flowing into adjacent rooms. The Tri-Dim Filter Corporation had its own filtration expertise in-house. With around 800 employees, Tri-Dim is one of the largest air filtration companies in North America and has its headquarters in Louisa, Virginia.

Tri-Dim offers an extensive portfolio of products and services for heating and air conditioning. These include air and liquid filtration, heating and air conditioning systems, clean room filtration, air purification systems, gas filtration and solutions for measuring and improving interior air quality. Tri-Dim has been a subsidiary of the MANN+HUMMEL Group since 2018.

MANN+Hummel and ebm‑papst against time

The German parent companies helped to find a suitable partner for the required fan. Mark Pierce, Vice President Sales & Marketing at ebm‑papst, Farmington, USA, explains: “The German MANN+HUMMEL and ebm‑papst sites already had business connections. The RadiCal centrifugal fan had already been used in other MANN+HUMMEL products. That’s why they were aware of the specifications, and Tri-Dim wanted to have this exact fan.”

On a Saturday in March, senior management from both MANN+HUMMEL and ebm‑papst US met for the first time on a conference call to discuss the challenge and opportunity before them. In addition to the fan, ebm‑papst was also asked to supply the metal housing of the Tri-Kleen 500 UV. The tight time frame given by MANN+HUMMEL was the sticking point. But ebm‑papst’s team made a great effort by utilizing overtime hours and weekends to supply the first fans along with the metal housings all within a two week period.

Image of manufacturing line of the filter housings being produced
ebm-papst’s team made a great effort by utilizing overtime hours and weekends to supply the first fans along with the metal housings all within a two week period. (Photo | ebm-papst)

Perfect interaction of filter and fan

The core components of the air purification system are an MERV 9 prefilter and a cylindrical HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter. With help from a micro-glass medium, this high-performance filter guarantees that 99.97 percent of all particles up to 0.3 µm in size are separated.

The effect of filtration is amplified by combining the HEPA filter with a UV lamp, whose light destroys germs, bacteria and viruses.

The RadiCal from ebm‑papst generates the air flow for the airpressure required in the treatment room. The Tri-Kleen unit has three speed settings and can be operated in “quiet mode”. An optional flange can be used to connect a flexible duct, which the system utilizes to discharge a higher air flow out of the room than is fed into it.

The negative pressure difference that results from this means that contaminated air cannot escape from the room. Both the intake and exhaust air pass through the filter system.

Flexible and mobile air filter

At first, sheet metal manufacturers at ebm‑papst Farmington had to produce the Tri-Kleen 500UV housing by trial and error. Mark Pierce explains: “We were collaborating with Tri-Dim for the first time. We had to establish processes first. We had CAD drawings produced and released, and, despite the enormous time pressure, we quickly managed to deliver what was required because all those involved worked hand in hand.”

Nilesh Tharval is satisfied: “In the meantime, we have sold almost 1,000 units of the air filter system. More will follow over the course of the year. Feedback from our customers has been entirely positive.”

The Tri-Kleen 500UV is currently only available on the U.S. market, but there have been initial inquiries from Europe, explains Mark Pierce. “We are preparing to produce 230 volt models with Tri-Dim.”

For the next generation of Tri-Kleen air filter systems, we are talking about using energy-efficient EC fans. - NILESH THARVAL, MANAGER OF ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY AT MANN+HUMMEL USA

Nilesh Tharval adds: “Our promise to our customers is that we will continuously work on innovative, new products and improve existing ones. In ebm‑papst, we have found a partner that shares this attitude. For the next generation of Tri-Kleen air filter systems, we are talking about using energy-efficient EC fans. Although we can’t stop the COVID-19 virus, we have worked together and harnessed our expertise to curtail it on a small scale.

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