A Gamma Ray Air Purifier?

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Offline AndroidNeox

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A Gamma Ray Air Purifier?
« on: 04/02/2013 20:17:59 »
I've wondered if you could make a good air purifier (sterilize & ionize) by passing the air past a gamma ray emitter. Maybe a box with a U shaped air path. It would need to be very tough to ensure the radioisotope was contained. I dont know if steel is good at blocking gamma rays, or whether the box would need to be lined.


Offline CliffordK

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Re: A Gamma Ray Air Purifier?
« Reply #1 on: 05/02/2013 23:19:06 »
It likely would work as lower energy UV has also been used.  Gamma rays have been used for preserving foods, and one could likely find a gamma concentration that would be lethal to airborne microbes. 

This article discusses use of Gamma for sterilization including sterilization of gases and pharmaceuticals.

There are a few limitations.
  • Gamma sterilization is time and dose dependent.  So, it may be effective in a low flow air input, but ineffective with in a high flow HVAC system.
  • Different organisms, or stages have varying susceptibilities to gamma radiation.  While it will kill viruses and spores, they take a much higher dose than most other organisms.
  • Gamma would provide no benefit to filtering non-biologic particles, such as vehicle exhaust fumes
  • Assuming high dose radiation, the device would need to be heavily shielded, isolated from people, and would probably be inappropriate for home-consumer use.

Personally I'm not a big fan of sterilizing anything beyond what is absolutely necessary.  Our bodies are designed to deal with low dose dust and etc.  In fact, Asthma is supposed to have lower incidence in rural settings than urban settings. with the rural settings presumably bringing greater exposure to dust, but possibly of a significantly different makeup than urban contaminants.