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A man with a plan

Having noticed that there were limited long-term solutions to tackling the issue of germs in air conditioning systems, Andrew Northover set about inventing his own

In 2013, the Office of National Statistics reported there were 131 million days lost due to sickness absence in the UK. The major contributing group was short-term – coughs, colds, flu and sneezes.

Air conditioning and ventilation systems are one of the most important contributing factors to the spread of germs in both domestic and commercial properties.

The idea for AirCon Safe was born due to my experience in the industry.

Having served many years in various different roles, from engineer to manager, I knew fully what products were in the marketplace and what they did.

Potential customers would ask me about the spread of germs through air conditioning units and all I could do was to be honest and say yes, they have the potential to spread germs.

When asked this question, I was always baffled as to why I couldn’t say with honesty: “There is an affordable solution we can put in place to reduce this.”

I was very aware of the market dominance of coil cleaners, offering short-term chemical kills that temporarily naturalise the bacterial build up on a coil, but unfortunately offer limited reduction of bacteria in the airflow.

Armed with this knowledge, it was apparent that solutions available were very short-term.

So I started researching why nothing before had ever been applied to the systems filter – this being the first line of defence in reducing the intake of germs.

I spent at least six months researching the marketplace, understanding what each product aimed to achieve and how it did it. I then came across anti-microbial treatments in other industries and therefore found I had a starting point.

I believed the best way to reduce the bacteria and pathogens spread through the systems would be found on a stable surface – not a coil that is continually changing from hot to cold.

Various chemical engineers were contacted. It took numerous phone calls before I could finally arrange a face-to-face meeting to explain my idea. Trial after trial, meeting after meeting and test after test resulted in poor results, until significant changes were made, which finally resulted in success – and AirCon Safe was born.

The aftermarket treatment requires a simple trigger spray application on to the filter of a system, where it forms two vital components – a strong permanent bond on the filter surface and the anti-microbial barrier, which consists of millions and millions of microscopic spikes.

Each spike has a positive charge, so when the negatively charged bacteria and pathogens come into contact with the AirCon Safe treatment, the spike pierces the cell wall, terminating any threat.

The majority of the research was based in the UK. However, the specialists that were needed to take my idea to reality meant that some of the research had to be outsourced beyond the UK.

Right treatment

The current AirCon Safe treatment is designed for split type systems, ranging from 2.5kW wall mounts to 14kW cassettes.

The treatment perfectly treats the filter of both systems. AirCon Safe, as a company, is currently in talks with leading filter manufactures to assess the viability of creating a pre-treated filter suitable for air handling units.

We are also in the early stages of this, as we need to ensure the end result is financially viable for the end-user marketplace.

That aside, given our launch was less than six months ago, the market response has been fantastic. We have a large amount of UK-based contractors on board, offering the AirCon Safe product to their client bases with great success.

We are stocked in Derbyshire Refrigeration and have a number of meetings arranged with other leading UK wholesalers. Each day new contractors are coming on board.

We have received a strong level of interest from countries such as South Africa, US and Australia. Market-leading companies in these regions are interesting in using the AirCon Safe treatment.

We predict sales to continually grow in the UK due to increased product awareness from wholesale purchasing options and word of mouth.

Filters for AHUs are our next port of call. We have an anti-microbial coil cleaner being tested and developed at the moment. This is initially proving tricky due to the ever changing state of the coil
and the difficulty of correct application. This is work in process and in the not-so-distant future, we hope to launch our new product ranges.

The main ambition of AirCon Safe was to fill the void in the marketplace. In the UK, air conditioning can still be deemed as a luxury. In warmer countries where the climate is a lot more aggressive, it is a daily necessity.

AirCon Safe allows the operators of air conditioning to enjoy cost-effective heating/cooling benefits while reducing the spread of germs.

In the next five years we see AirCon Safe becoming a standard association with any air conditioning system, helping to make air-con safer.

www.airconsafe.com

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