botanical air filtration, indoor air quality, thermal model, residence
Poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) can significantly influence a person’s health, comfort, and productivity. Studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicate that Americans, on average, spend over 90 percent of their time indoors where the air may be two to five times more polluted than outdoors. Comparative risk studies performed by the EPA and the Science Advisory Board (SAB) rank indoor air pollution among the top five environmental risks to public health. Studies have shown that plants are effective in removing indoor air contaminants as they break down air contaminants into their fundamental elements, and through the process of photosynthesis, plants can absorb carbon dioxide from the indoor air. The Biowall is a botanical air filter which is designed to purify indoor air and improve IAQ through plant-assisted phytoremediation. Considering the development of high-performance building technology, the best solution may be to integrate plants into heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Using plants can reduce the energy consumption by decreasing the ventilation requirements. In addition, it also can provide moisture in the air, which can reduce the loads on the cooling equipment while delivering comfortable air quality. Earlier analyses for the Biowall showed it has the potential to remove contaminants and improve air quality. However, they were completed either in an environmental chamber or in another controlled environment and the Biowall was not connected with the HVAC system. As of yet, little research has been conducted on the performance of the Biowall in a residential setting. This paper evaluates the performance of the Biowall in a home, evaluates the control algorithms, and provides recommendations for long-term Biowall management. The Biowall system was installed in a research residence called the ReNEWW House, which is a living laboratory and located in West Lafayette, IN. During the summer of 2016, a prototype Biowall was settled in the ReNEWW House. This paper evaluates the control strategies of the irrigation and fan system, present a thermodynamic model of the Biowall, and share results of the performance of the Biowall in terms of IAQ. The results suggest that the IAQ of the ReNEWW House was maintained well by the Biowall.