VERTEX’s terpene and alcohol chemical mixture (TAC) Indoor Air Tracer is a new and innovative air sensing technology. In 2017, we obtained US Patent Approval for innovative use of photoionization sensor technology for atmospheric tracer measurement, using a ‘green’ aliphatic citrus terpene and alcohol reagent mixture (LIPA).
TAC enables measurement of an air parcel as it moves through a building. One can detect and measure a labelled air mass over building-scale distances using parts per billion (ppb) detection in an air parcel. Common applications include use for determining the concentration and frequency of entrainment of exhaust fumes into an air intake or open window. The technology allows timed auto-injection of the tracer into the exhaust duct and sensor placement at the various locations of concern.
TAC mixtures are traditionally used in fragrance formulations, and are well studied and reported in terms of environmental safety and human toxicity. They are present as volatile constituents of all plants, and therefore they are also normal components of the atmosphere. Humans are continually exposed to these chemicals throughout our lifetimes through consumption of a traditional diet and inhalation of air. Because the TAC components are extracted directly from naturally occurring sources, its use does not result in the release into the environment of any more materials than would occur naturally.
Prior technology for air tracing using sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) methods require compressed gasses and expensive IR or EC analyzers which can give only a limited series of measurements. Unique capabilities of TAC technology are the ability to rapidly deploy controlled tracer release, measurement in real time using multiple arrayed sensors, without having to release global warming compressed gases, at lower cost and with improved data acquisition over SF6 methods.
TAC Tracer pulse duration and repeat frequency can be set based on various survey conditions and objectives. Short pulse measurements in occupied indoor air zones may be used simply to track air movement within a zone, between zones, and to locate air leakage locations. Time-concentration sensor data can be used to measure contaminant removal efficiency in an indoor space. Timed tracer releases can be set for extended times (days) to track frequency and duration of tracer readings.
Building Scale Air Tracing
TAC air tracing provides a unique tool for measurement of indoor air distribution in and between spaces in buildings, and in-duct measurements of mechanical systems performance under normal operations over a range of set points and environmental controls.
A Green Air Tracer
In addition to the physical properties which allow the tracer to persist during the measurement term, T.A.C tracer fulfills the following requirements for practical suitability: excellent health and safety aspects, low environmental burden, high availability and good handling in practical use at low cost, and, not least, TAC tracer is well recordable with established measurement techniques over a wide concentration range and with good precision
Limonene is readily biodegradable, has a zero net global warming potential and is an environmentally preferable product (EPP) used as is or as part of an EPP formulation. TAC mixture is relatively low toxicity to aquatic organisms, insects and plants, low acute and chronic toxicity, and data on the environmental fate, transport, and effects shows no contribution to global warming, depletion of stratospheric ozone, a relatively low reactivity in photochemical smog and a low potential for ground level ozone formation. Because the TAC components are extracted from naturally occurring sources, its use does not result in the release into the environment of any more materials than would occur naturally. Using naturally derived TAC tracer, by replacing SF6 and perfluorocarbons, will result in source reduction of the most potent global warming chemicals.
Cliff Cooper is an environmental health professional with thirty years of experience managing industrial hygiene programs and consulting with clients in matters of indoor environmental quality and health and safety. He is an expert in the measurement and evaluation of chemical and biological exposures, risk assessment, and regulatory compliance.
American Board of Industrial Hygiene: Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), Comprehensive Practice No. 8246.
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