How Does An Air Ionizer Work

How Does An Air Ionizer Work?

Air Ionizers work through polarity. By inundating the air with positively and negatively charged ions, Plasma Air Ionizers trap air pollutants in an ionic bond that becomes to heavy to float and falls to the surface.

There are actually 3 types of air ionizers there can be purchased.

  1. Negative ion generator
  2. Bi Polar Plasma cluster
  3. Photo catalytic Oxidation

Here’s the rundown:

How Does a Negative ion generator work?

The negative ion generator is a simple machine that negatively charges particles and emits them into the air.

The ideal is that when the negative ions emitted from the machine combine with the positive ions already in the air, they clump together and become too heavy to float so they fall to the surface.

This process is intended to leave your Ambient air free of particles, making it healthier to breathe.

But as you might guess, they have an obvious downside.

They leave a layer of dust on and around your ionizer.

Also the word “surface” here, means the surrounding walls, television screens and computer monitors.

Another downside is that they require an electric spark to manufacturer ions.

A kind of “lightning simulation” that can creates a low level of ozone.

Though not technically an ozone generator because it does not specifically use Ozone gas as a air cleaning agent,

The fact that it creates any ozone at all puts it in another class of air cleaner.

The first class of air purifier being a filtering machine that is basically a fan that pulls air through a filter to captures air pollutants. Your friendly domestic set it and leave it device.

The second class of air purifier, and the one that ionizers fall under, should be viewed more as an air cleaning treatment that are not intended to be left on 24/7.

Ozone generators come listed with strict rules of use.
They are not operated in an occupied room.
And the room is left to completely dissipate before it is used again.

Though negative ionizers do not create near the level of ozone been a strict ozone generator does,

They nevertheless do create some ozone and ozone can build up.

How Does An Air Ionizer Work
Bi Polar Plasma cluster

Plasma cluster or bi polar air ionizers, as they’re also called, work by flooding the airstream with both polarities of ions as opposed to the negative ion generator that only emits negative ions.

When the negative and positive ions are released they instantly combine, snapping together and in the process trapping anything in the way with it.

And like other types of ionizers, they do clump together particles good make you are surfaces extra dusty.

But the real excitement about bipolar ionization is the effect that it has on pathogens.

When negative and positive ions surround a pathogen, they rob its hydrogen which make the bacterium inactive.

Effectively destroying viruses.

Photocatalytic air purifier ionizers

PCO Ionizers create oxidizing ions through process of combining ultraviolet light with titanium oxide in a hydrated environment.

This process creates a variety of redundant oxidizers that return to water and oxygen when they have reacted on a airborne contaminant.

The motherload of ions created in the photocatalytic process are hydroxyl and hydroperoxide ions.

These ions are basically the gas form of hydrogen peroxide, the topical disinfectant you pour over a cut or abrasion.

Imagine pouring hydrogen peroxide solution on every airborne contaminant floating through the air including the pollutants exposed on surfaces like countertops and tables.

This is essentially how a photocatalytic ionizer works.

The same disinfectant qualities of hydrogen peroxide but for the air.

But they do have their drawbacks.

Just like any other ionizer, they leave the surfaces around the ion generator particularly dusty.

And because they use ultraviolet light to target the titanium oxide catalyst, they create ozone as a by-product.

How Does An Air Ionizer WorkBenefits of ionizers

1.  Filterless technology

It’s no secret that when you purchase an air purifier you are also invested in purchasing replacement filters for the life of that air purifier.

That is one of the main things that make ionizers attractive. They do not require regular maintenance or replacement filters.

2.  Virus and bacteria reduction

The most popular air purifiers are HEPA air filter machines that pull air into a HEPA filter that is able to capture particular to smallest .03 microns.

Though very efficient and capable of dealing with most household allergens,
They can only filter contaminants and have no effect on viruses.

Both PCO and bipolar ionizers can effectively make viruses inactive.

3. Whole house air purification.

Combined with the HVAC central heat and air  , induct Ionizers can purify the air coming in and leaving the system via the duct work.

Although you can purchase HEPA filters that fit in your HVAC, they can be to dense to allow for the free flowing air your system needs to operate efficiently.

The extra strain that using dense filters in your central heat and air can lead to extra energy cost and more repairs across the life of the unit.

Energy cost

Compared to HEPA filtering air purifiers, ionizers cost mere pennies to run per day. A huge advantage when you’re talking about cleaning the air throughout an entire building.

How Does An Air Ionizer WorkFinally

Even though one of the primary reasons people search for ionizers is the absence of replacement filters.

Combining a Ionizer with a Hepa filtering purifier is a great way to get the best of both worlds.

The reason is because ionizers clump particles together which makes them larger. Particles that otherwise may be to small to effectively be caught in a filter can be trapped easily by adding mass to them.

Today’s air purifiers combine multiple technologies to sensor and remove every type of indoor air pollution.

If you are searching for an Ionizer fan, consider broadening  your search to include smart air purifiers.


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Published by

Dennis Reed

Dennis Reed Owner and Author @