The focus on ventilation at foodservice sites has never been higher, with sufficient fresh air supply and sterilisation proven to massively reduce the risks of coronavirus airborne transmission. And front and back of house staff, as well as diners themselves, may feel more confident about being in these spaces if there is a guarantee that the ventilation is effective.
Many sector suppliers are keen to emphasise that their systems can assist with this endeavour, such as Kitchen Vent Technical (KVT), with commercial director Ian Levin detailing: “Our ventilation systems are always designed with safe ventilation in mind, in every situation. Recommended room occupancy airflow rates are far exceeded, to provide sufficient air changes to evacuate the majority of airborne particulate exhaled by kitchen staff.
“The addition of our ClearAir Spectrum ‘in-canopy’ ultra-violet systems further reduces the risk of any virus lingering in the ductwork or being discharged to atmosphere. Return supply-air to the space is also filtered and treated to minimise incoming particulate. Careful attention to the total ventilation of kitchen spaces is critical and is at the heart of what we do.”
He underlined: “We can confidently say that KVT’s systems make a huge contribution to not only minimising the risk of Covid, but also other airborne viruses and bacteria, being spread through the kitchen environment.”
KVT is working closely with distributors, and Levin stated: “The message we are giving to all is that it is essential that properly-designed systems produced by experienced kitchen ventilation experts are the only way to ensure safe and hygienic air movement in their cooking and preparation spaces.
“Too many companies fail to realise that the whole kitchen requires ventilation and that extract air has to be removed and treated in very specific ways, whilst replacement supply-air has to be filtered, tempered and delivered by similarly clear-cut methods. This design, supply and installation service is second nature to us and is illustrated in our active BESA membership and direct involvement with DW172. This gives clients comfort in the knowledge that we are a vetted and bonefide specialist ventilation company, with the proof to back it up.”
He further urged: “Dealers should be advising operators to get their ventilation checked for compliance with the latest standards on a regular basis. Where vent systems fall short of these standards, they should be upgraded or replaced. To skimp on the cost of a vent system is to put the health, safety and welfare of operatives, co-occupiers and customers at risk in many different ways.”
At Leeds-based Trivent, MD Ian Wilman said of the current situation: “In line with scientific studies Covid-19 has moved ventilation from a ‘dark art’ hidden within ceiling voids and roofs to the forefront of mechanical services, with various campaigns to promote the industry and the virus protection that can be offered.
“Guidance suggests six changes of air per hour to a space will provide a satisfactory level of ventilation and dilution of airborne virus aerosols. When you consider that a commercial kitchen ventilation system designed in accordance with BESA specification DW/172 2018 (V2) would normally provide air changes rates of between 40 and potentially 150 per hour, depending on the volume of the space and type of catering appliances utilised, this would most likely make a commercial kitchen one of the safest spaces within a building.”
Wilman pointed out that coronavirus is not the only concern when it comes to ventilation: “Elevated levels of pollutants are not uncommon throughout the UK. This is an issue that will remain when the pandemic comes to an end, and as such we feel that the level of filtration offered in replacement air systems should be tailored to the issues of the location with much higher levels of air filtration and sound maintenance regimes employed to ensure good indoor air quality rather than simply complying with current specifications and guidelines.”
Noting that Trivent can implement air quality monitoring within budget control packages to provide warnings when pre-set pollutant levels are reached, and that electrostatic precipitators and UV filtration systems have now been developed for inclusion within the firm’s replacement air systems to prevent odour nuisance, Wilman detailed: “It is our philosophy to bring system enhancements and any future developments to the dealers and the client’s attention so that informed decisions can be made. Unfortunately, such improvements do impact upon cost and will always be budget driven.
Although we would hope the pandemic and the ‘new normal’ will entice decision makers into considering the importance of ensuring the health of their spaces, colleagues, and customers.”
Over at Halton Foodservice, MD Steve Mason reported the company has been able to offer products that can assist with the reduction of airborne viral transmission through using UVGI (ultra violet germicidal irradiation) for a number of years.
He explained: “Operating at 254nm UVC, it is non-ozone producing and extremely effective in damaging the DNA/RNA of the virus. When exposed to the ultraviolet light, bacteria, viruses and fungal spores lose their reproduction capability. They quickly and effectively lose their infectivity and become inert, meaning the virus is unable to replicate.
“As with all technology of this nature, it must always be designed and used with care, requiring specialist engineering for performance and safety.”
Mason revealed: “Halton has been very active in modifying our offerings with regards to air purification of the existing environment. Halton’s Health segment has carried out extensive research in this area, having already established criteria for ventilation design to mitigate airborne transmission of infectious disease even before the current pandemic. Halton Foodservice is sharing this knowledge and modifying it to become more versatile and provide proven technology for the deployment of product-based solutions in foodservice environments.”
This has resulted in developments such as the Halton Sentinel, a portable unit utilising UVGI and specialist filters to recirculate and purify the existing air in a room through the filtration system, enabling a claimed reduction up to 99.9% of airborne viral and bacterial contamination. Plus the Halton Overhead Light is a 600 x 1,200mm solution for the cleaning and sterilisation of unoccupied spaces. One unit can handle up to 130metre² with a 3metre ceiling, depending on time constraints for the cleaning cycle. Requiring a single-phase circuit at 15A, each fixture consumes 52W of energy.
Mason detailed that Halton works closely with distributors to ensure the following factors are considered when addressing contagions within a foodservice operation: impact of ventilation rates and the type of air distribution method used; occupancy-related ventilation requirements (higher rates for higher occupancy); automatic adjustment of ventilation rates; monitoring of indoor environmental quality; treatment of recirculating air if extraction to atmosphere is not possible; and treatment of surfaces during unoccupied periods.
Another brand which got the jump on air management systems before Covid-19 is Mansfield Pollard, which created UVent, a range of UVC air sterilising products, in response to the original SARS (coronavirus) epidemic in 2004.
National kitchen ventilation business development manager Gayle Kelly outlined its operation: “Specialist UVC lamps create a kill zone that is up to four times larger than traditional lamps and up to five times the irradiation intensity for superior performance. A unique enhanced integral reflective zone magnifies irradiation intensity and provides 360° field coverage to ensure consistency and intensity levels within the reaction chamber.”
The product suite is available in three formats: a free standing and fully portable 880mm-high unit with the ability to sterilise the air within any room or specific space, a ceiling jet unit sized to replace a single standard ceiling tile and capable of sterilising a variable air volume for both medical and commercial applications, and fully scalable duct-mounted units which can deal with any airflow duty and can be retrofitted into existing ductwork installations.
Kelly emphasised: “All UVent products have been subjected to rigorous independent testing and scientific scrutiny under laboratory conditions to reflect actual live HVAC conditions. Leeds University Pathogen Control Engineering Institute (PaCE) conducted steady state room tests which consisted of a specially constructed aero-biology test chamber to simulate a room inhabited by an infectious individual who is constantly emitting harmful organisms.
“Comprehensive results for various air volumes for over 30 different pathogens (including coronavirus SARS and Influenza) are freely available, highlighting kill percentages in excess of 99.9%.”
She also underlined: “As a relatively new product to market, we are looking to make distributors and design houses aware of the short, medium and long term benefits of UVent air sterilisation technology. UVent products are flexible and scalable and can be easily retrofitted into any commercial kitchen for relatively little cost. The mobile units can be moved to sterilise specific spaces and ceiling jets fitted where any suspended ceiling is present. The duct mounted units are fully scalable to manage any airflow in the largest kitchen and dining areas.”
Elsewhere, at commercial kitchen filtration manufacturer, Purified Air, director Andrew James appraised: “We believe it is important to take a holistic approach to treating pollution in the air that we breathe. Typically, most particles greater than 10microns are deposited in the nose or throat and cannot penetrate the lower tissues of the respiratory tract. Particles below 10microns can get deep into your lungs and some may even get into your bloodstream. Of these, particles that are less than 2.5micron also known as fine particles or PM2.5, pose the greatest risk to health.
“Viruses such as the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, are tiny, between 0.12 and 0.14microns. However, the majority of transmission is through aerosols produced by people when they breathe, talk or cough. These are generally between about 0.7microns to around 10microns, they are completely invisible to the naked eye and easily able to float in air.
“It is important to trap or filter all the pollutants that are harmful to health as well as applying other methods such as UVGI to help deactivate or kill virus and bacteria. We have to consider the particulate pollutants that UVGI type of treatment is unable to deal with.”
He continued: “We recommend a dual unit that will firstly filter all the harmful particulate contaminants from the air using electrostatic precipitation and secondly apply a stage of UVGI to help deactivate bacteria and virus present in the air. It is well known and documented that electrostatic precipitators can filter down to 0.01micron up to efficiencies greater than 99%.”
On Purified Air’s offerings, he explained: “We have a range of product designed to assist in the fight against Covid, these range from portable units, to standalone recirculating, ducted for air handling units ones made specifically for fan coil air conditioning units.
“Our UVC technology has been recently tested by a British university and concluded that using UV dose values based on existing studies, our units provide multiples of the minimum dose that is required to neutralise pathogens including SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19 with at least a 1-log(90%) reduction. Dependent on airflow we can achieve a 3-log(99.9%) reduction.”
The demand for higher specification air filtration and ventilation won’t go away soon, considering the Covid-19 vaccines may take months to fully roll out, and with foodservice sites trying to attract business in the meantime, sector suppliers are likely to continue to have their phones ringing off the hook to deploy many of the technologies mentioned here.
Air sterilisers have become a must-have piece of kit for those foodservice venues able to trade in these pandemic-affected times. One supplier finding its latest offerings coinciding with a steep rise in demand was Mechline, with its HyGenikx wall-mounted air and surface sanitisation system.
The Milton Keynes-based firm had already developed the technology, proven to eradicate bacteria and viruses throughout the foodservice and hospitality environments, for launch this year, but subsequently extended the range to include a fan-assisted model for larger occupied areas like offices, care homes, waiting rooms and retail and leisure facilities.
The system uses a combination of UVC, PCO and trace ozone to destroy viruses and microorganisms. It works by damaging the genetic material of viruses so that they can no longer function or reproduce — rendering them harmless.
Marketing manager Kristian Roberts summed up: “Together with regular handwashing, frequent cleaning, and social distancing, HyGenikx can help prevent the spread of harmful coronaviruses and reduce the risk of infection.”
Mechline has created a HyGenikx configurator to help distributors assist operators in choosing the most suitable model for each requirement. The firm also launched a ‘Customer Confidence Campaign’, providing stickers with each unit and a downloadable resource pack to show diners when a venue is going the extra mile to look after their safety and well-being.
Roberts commented: “In the current climate the campaign acts as an important sales aid for distributors, providing them with a more complete package to offer operators. The customer confidence campaign works alongside HyGenikx to highlight to, and reassure, the public that a foodservice establishment takes their safety and well-being seriously. The current survival of any operator is not only challenged with the physical fight against the spread of infection but also the psychological fight to instil confidence in diners to eat out.”
He further advised dealers: “Do your research. Not all technologies are equal. Some products brought to market recently have been a knee-jerk reaction to the pandemic and may not be most suitable solution to use in a hospitality environment.”
Elsewhere, Sirman air and surface sterilisers, supplied through Foodservice Equipment Marketing (FEM) are designed to generate sanitising ozone in 30 minute cycles to penetrate all corners of the room. Ozone can be effective against surface and airborne germs and airborne allergens, and the sterilisers are specifically designed for mould, bacteria and virus killing.
FEM commercial director, Mark Hogan, reported: “FEM’s range of sterilisers were launched specifically to help hospitality businesses tackle the air purification issues raised by the pandemic. The range offers a selection to suit as many applications as possible, with a choice of both portable and floor standing models.”
All models are fitted with a timer of between 0-60 minutes to control use, and start/off buttons to control the work cycle. They are constructed from anodised aluminium and Aisi 304 stainless steel.
Hogan added: “We work closely with our distributor network to ensure they have all the information and resources they need. If required, we are happy to come with them to meet the client to discuss their needs.
“One of the key sales features of our range of air and surface sterilisers is that they are very easy to install – simply position them, plug them in and they are ready to go.”
He further recommended: “When using Sirman air and surface sterilisers it is recommended not to re-enter the area for at least 6 hours after the end of the cycle. Areas should then be ventilated thoroughly for at least a further 15 minutes before allowing general access.”