Air purity aboard your yacht

Written by SuperYacht Times

As the world gradually returns to ‘normal’, so too does the yachting industry. Not only will luxury, comfort and craftsmanship remain a key priority for clients, but safety, sanitation and eco-friendliness will also be high up on the list of requirements when either buying or chartering a yacht. Air quality is a buzzword in yachting right now, with boats like Columbus Yachts’ 50m Project Lady leading the charge. Complete with a yacht air purification system, the Palumbo Yachts and Hydrotec collaboration is on track for her 2022 delivery date. While the pandemic has catalysed a multitude of new modifications for better on-board air quality, some say that these enhancements were already on the horizon. Cooling Engineer at Heinen & Hopman working on custom-built Provision Cooling PlantPre-pandemic shift
COO of Palumbo Superyachts, Gianpaolo La Penna tells SuperYacht Times that the pandemic raised awareness of existing demands: “The focus on air sanitisation has stemmed from an increasing (and now standard) request to have Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs) installed,” says La Penna. DPFs are not only capable of reducing polluting emissions, but also of cancelling the smell of diesel or generators. “Owners’ awareness of these issues has led Palumbo Superyachts to propose more cutting-edge air sanitation systems through the use of cold plasma,” explains La Penna. And for Palumbo Superyachts’ customers who are very conscientious of the environment, these innovations have been welcomed with great excitement. 

Jaco Heinen, Service Manager at Heinen & Hopman reiterates that demand was already growing among its client base too: “Safety and hygiene has been high on the agenda for quite a long time, but air purification has now become an even more important part of this.” Heinen & Hopman has already been using UV filtration for a number of customers for years, and this is now regularly installed for clients. When it comes to fitting new filtration systems for existing yachts, Heinen reassures us that it’s not as complex as one may think. “For existing yachts, certain techniques are possible, but the space is sometimes too limited to ensure the best possible air quality. However, for new projects it is not difficult to use filtration techniques to improve the air quality in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, so we take that into account in the engineering,” he explains. UV-C air ventilation system Photo: Kilian SeilerPost-pandemic necessity
So, what does improved air quality actually look like on board, and what are the benefits other than reducing pollution and potentially being more hygienic for guests and crew? “Since the pandemic, interest from the general public in ‘airborne particle matter’ has taken a huge leap,” explains Will Faimatea, Managing Partner of VFA Land & Sea. The team has seen the implementation of its ASPRA air purification products — a revolutionary system that removes dust, particulate matter, microbiological contaminants, such as viruses, fungi and pollen and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) — skyrocket.  

According to Faimatea, it’s a welcome development: “The Covid-19 crisis was a major wake-up call for the entire world, and the importance of proper air quality simply cannot be ignored anymore,” he explains. “I found it quite enlightening that as little as two years ago, aside from temperature and humidity, HVAC systems in the yacht industry did not have a specification on air quality. Before February 2020 we were trying to introduce the ASPRA air purifying products and air quality surveys into the yacht market but had little traction.” Now, the demand is ever-growing, and VFA is busy developing and releasing new products.UV-C light for air ventilation system Innovation in air quality
Patrick Voorn, Managing Director of Synergy The HVAC Consultancy works closely with VFA on their latest innovations: “In cooperation with VFA Land and Sea, we have developed a closed loop electrostatic precipitation air purification cassette that fits in almost every air handling unit on board a yacht. The ASPRA only charges particles and kills microbiological contaminants inside the application, and captures them directly on its own open structure filter (a collector) and no harmful radicals are produced. The Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) is up to 99% depending upon the system and situation,” Voorn explains. Heinen & Hopman's UV-C purifying system and UV-C oxidation system diagramCostly but crucial?
The system has very low energy consumption and can easily be connected to the ship’s system (220V/24V and a mod bus connection to read out the air quality). But there is also an option to place a stand-alone unit which can clean individual areas and rooms, Voorn tells us. With the industry taking a huge hit over the last 18 months, expense is, of course, a consideration for owners: “Expensive is a broad word when it comes to our health and return on investment. When you are not able to charter your fleet due to a pandemic, it is more expensive than the investment, which in that case is earned back very quickly. You can never eliminate the risk of contamination but narrowing the risk down by up to 99% is a huge step.”

Voorn predicts that air quality will become part of yachts’ building specification and is skilled-up to manage that demand: “We are lucky to have a biochemical engineer in our team of experts and with the knowledge and experience we now have about HVAC systems and air quality, we will be able to increase air quality and decrease power consumption at the same time,” he says. 

With low carbon footprints being high on the agenda for many shipyards and yacht owners, this is a positive step towards a greener and safer future within the industry. 

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue of The SuperYacht Times newspaper. To receive all future issues straight to your door, subscribe to the newspaper here.

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