Make your yacht pandemic-proof with these ventilation hacks

Written by Parisa Hashempour

The recent pandemic has had a complicated effect on the yachting industry. While travel restrictions mean many of the beaches, bars and restaurants frequented by charter guests have closed down, it is clear that guests and owners are opting to escape to the sanctuary of a safe superyacht.

Having taken note of the current goings-on in the industry, the team at Heinen & Hopman have come up with two expert recommendations for creating a safe space onboard with filtration systems that aim to improve virus protection.SY A yacht cruising off Cala di VolpePhoto: Charl van Rooy / SuperYacht TimesBy optimising your HVAC system, guests will stay warm with a good supply of air that is fresh and pathogen-free – all crucial aspects for a safe and hygienic onboard experience. But first, the yacht and her specific needs should be evaluated with the following three questions:

●       Does she already have a UV filtration system onboard?

●       Does she have a fresh air system with local fan coil units?

●       Or does she have a system with air handling units?

Once the specifications are more clear, Heinen & Hopman’s top recommendations for making your yacht pandemic-proof are:Heinen & Hopman's UV-C purifying system and UV-C oxidation system diagram

Use UV-C light for maximum hygiene

Even if SARS-CoV-2 is not airborne, the next virus bringing the world to a halt could well be. One pro-tip from Heinen & Hopman is to incorporate a UV-C filter system, which will improve the general hygiene onboard. It also helps protect crew and guests against more general symptoms of headache, lethargy, excessive fatigue, irritations of the mucous membranes and running eyes.UV-C light for air ventilation system Improve your UV-C purifying system

If the yacht already has a UV-C filtration system, it is essential that regular checks and maintenance are completed. However, for new-to-build systems, Heinen & Hopman advise using a UV-C purifying system in combination with proper filtration. Filters may help protect UV-C lamps from dust and debris accumulation, which may reduce UV output over time. UV-C performance can also be improved by using a company like Heinen & Hopman to enhance the overall reflectivity on the inside of the air-handling unit. This ensures that UV-C energy is reflected into the irradiated zone, increasing the effective UV dose.Heinen & Hopman service workPhoto: Heinen & HopmanUnderstand the science

There are two air purifying systems that Heinen & Hopman advises, based on known references: a UV-C purifying system and a UV-C oxidation system.

A UV-C purifying system uses ultraviolet energy to disable viral, bacterial and fungal organisms. A bombardment of highly energetic photons damages the organism’s DNA so that it can no longer reproduce itself. Ultraviolet energy is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength shorter than that of visible light.

A UV-C oxidation system generates ozone which emits electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths below 200 nanometers. This energetic electromagnetic radiation splits oxygen molecules into two separate oxygen atoms, which then attach to each other or to oxygen molecules, forming ozone molecules.

Ozone is composed of three oxygen atoms. A basic oxygen molecule (O2) is formed out of two oxygen atoms. Oxygen atoms are highly reactive, meaning they will easily bond with particles such as bacteria, viruses or other microorganisms. The third oxygen atom of an ozone molecule can detach from it and re-attach to molecules of other substances. The oxidizing process alters their chemical composition and eventually breaks it down.UV-C air ventilation system Photo: Kilian SeilerKnow the difference between UV-C purifying and UV-C oxidation

Although both systems use UV-C light, they are very different ways of filtering. Conventional UV-C light attacks germs and viruses straight on as a virus that is exposed to UV-C light within the most efficient wavelength of 254 nanometers will eventually be disabled if the exposure time is long enough. The area of effect is inside the confined space of the air handling unit.

An ultraviolet oxidation system indirectly attacks biological agents. The system uses UV-C light with lower wavelengths to generate ozone. These ozone particles attach, attack and disable micro-organisms. The area of effect is not inside the air handling unit, but in the much larger ducting system after the air handling unit. The big advantage? An ultraviolet oxidizing system can be applied in the limited space of an existing air treatment unit, supply duct or plenum.Q yacht at the 2019 Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta Day 2Photo: Charl van Rooy / SuperYacht TimesFind the best place to install a UV-C purifying system

If the yacht has a fresh air system with local fan coil units, try installing an air duct purifier. Heinen & Hopman always advise installing in the air-handling unit, where recirculation air is present. “Here maximum air velocity is the lowest and air from all spaces comes by. Cooling coils and condensate pans are simultaneously irradiated when the lights are directly prior to them,” say Heinen & Hopman

“The effectiveness of your UV-C light depends on two things – its irradiance and the exposure time. According to The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the minimal exposure time should be at least 0.25 seconds. The lower the airspeed, the longer the exposure time and the less space that is required,” the company adds.N2H by Rossinavi in MaltaPhoto: Charl van Rooy / SuperYacht TimesConsider an alternative upgrade

In most cases, building a conventional UV-C system within the current installation is a challenge. That’s because some space inside the air handling unit is needed and that space is rarely available. As ultraviolet oxidizers can be used in confined spaces, they are a good alternative upgrade to your existing system.Seven sins swimming pool in St Lucia Photo: Charl van Rooy / SuperYacht Times

If you don’t have air handling units, try this:

Heinen & Hopman advise one of two options: Either a UV-C without a catalyst (they recommend a UV-C in the spectrum of 254nm) is installed, or alternatively, a UV-C with a catalyst that produces oxidizing agents.Heinen & Hopman's UV-C purifying system and UV-C oxidation system diagramBut remember ozone generators are unlikely to decontaminate completely

By keeping in mind that while the presence of ozone produced by ozone generators may inhibit the growth of some microorganisms, it is unlikely to fully decontaminate the air unless concentrations are high enough to be a health concern to people. Yachts with this feature benefit from an extra safety measure, but an upgrade of the HVAC installation should be used in combination with a solid filtration system.

To find out more about how Heinen & Hopman products work to keep the superyacht fleet a safe sanctuary, contact the company directly via the details found below.



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