Ultraviolet Germicidal Coil Cleaning: Decreased Surface Microbial Loading and Resuspension of Cell Clusters

Luongo, J. C., & Miller, S. L. (2016). Ultraviolet germicidal coil cleaning: Decreased surface microbial loading and resuspension of cell clusters. Building and Environment, 105, 50–55. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2016.05.024



  • Ultraviolet germicidal coil cleaning technology used in HVAC systems to decrease fouling is investigated.
  • UV was most effective at reducing surface microbial loading during condensing conditions.
  • Desiccation also reduced microbial surface loading, but to a lesser degree than UV.
  • Both UV and desiccation caused resuspension of cell clusters into the air leaving the cooling coils.

ABSTRACT. Cooling coil surfaces within building ventilation systems are ideal sites for biofilm formation due to the presence of adequate nutrients (deposited particles) and moisture (condensate). In this study, a heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) test apparatus was built consisting of two parallel ducts, each with its own cooling coil. One coil was exposed to ultraviolet germicidal coil cleaning (UVG-CC) while the other was the comparison control to investigate the impact of UVG-CC on surface microbial loading and bacterial attachment.  Surface samples were collected by swabbing a uniform area of coil surface and airborne samples were collected isokinetically with sterile funnel filters. All samples were quantified via direct epifluorescent microscopy. Prior to irradiating, higher concentrations of surface microbial loading were found on the downstream side of both cooling coils under condensing conditions. Conversely, under dry surface conditions with downstream UV irradiance, surface concentrations were higher upstream. UVG-CC (at an average 200 ìW/cm2 on the coil surface) reduced surface microbial loading by 55% on average during condensing conditions and inhibited bacterial attachment causing clusters of bacterial matter to become airborne downstream of the cooling coil. Additionally, it was found that desiccation also inhibited surface microbial loading and yielded cluster detachment but to a lesser degree than UVG-CC treatment.