Studies show that infrared heating could protect against the spread of Covid-19 infection
The use of infrared heaters in factories and working environments could have a health & safety benefit in relation to the potential spread of Covid-19 among the workforce.
Schwank, a leading manufacturer of gas-fired radiant heaters, is convinced of the merits of recent studies by the highly reputed Hermann Rietschel Institute for Heating and Ventilation Technology at the Technical University of Berlin, which points to the fact that infrared heaters do not cause movement in the air like many conventional heating systems.
It is known that Covid-19 infection occurs mainly via droplet infection and aerosols, i.e. micro-droplets produced while talking, coughing or sneezing. Professor Martin Kriegel, Head of the Hermann Rietschel Institute, Department of Building Energy Systems explains how: “Larger particles sink to the ground faster. Smaller particles follow the air flow and can remain in the air for quite a long time.”
However, Professor Kriegel adds that: “Even larger droplets (>60 μm) can, under certain circumstances, spread far into a room. This is the case, for example, if the particles are emitted by a person and it rises, spreads horizontally and only then starts to settle. Possible horizontal air movements further intensify the spreading effect.”
Transferring heat safely
The studies conclude that heating systems that work without air movement, such as radiant heating systems, can significantly reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection. This is because infrared radiant heating systems, such as those using plaque (luminous) or tube heaters, transfer heat by means of electromagnetic waves, usually called infrared rays.
Where the infrared rays strike, they are converted into heat, similar to the way that heat is transferred by the rays of the sun. So the heat is transferred from the heating system to the employee’s area without any air movement.
Steve Sherman, Managing Director of Schwank UK, commented that the energy efficiency and performance of high quality infrared heating systems was well known, and the principle of heating without air movement had long been cited as a benefit for eliminating dust swirls in industrial and commercial buildings.
He added that: “The studies by the Hermann Rietschel Institute are of significant interest and their conclusions are entirely logical. These are findings that employers and facilities managers may well wish to take into consideration.”