October 5, 2021
Last Updated On:
May 11, 2022

What You Need to Know About Hydroxyl Generators

Discover why this advanced air cleaning technology provides optimal IAQ protection for businesses.

Last Updated On:
May 11, 2022

Hydroxyl generators are odor-removing devices that have been used widely since 2008 in the disaster restoration industry to remove odors left by fires, floods, pets, and crime scenes. While the machine is typically used for eliminating odors from a building, it can also harness UV-C light to serve as a powerful disinfectant for indoor air.

Are you considering a hydroxyl generator for your business? Here is what you need to know.

What Is a Hydroxyl Generator?

A hydroxyl generator is a device that uses UV-C to remove odors, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), virus particles, and bacteria particles from the air. You simply need to plug in and turn on the device, and it will go to work immediately, cleaning the air.

The generator can be used to:

  • Remove the smell of cigarette smoke from a room.
  • Remove odors due to fire damage.
  • Clean water damage and mold.
  • Clean crime scenes.
  • Eliminate pet odors.
  • Purify the air for restoration projects.

Restoration contractors commonly use the hydroxyl generator, but they are especially popular with property managers, hotels, and restaurants because they can effectively remove odors and purify the air.

How Does a Hydroxyl Generator Work?

A hydroxyl generator uses UV-C radiation technology, which replicates what happens in nature when the sun’s ultraviolet rays break apart water vapor. The process creates hydroxyl radicals (OH) that decompose chemicals in the air. The hydroxyls break down and inactivate odors, VOCs, viruses and bacteria, and other microorganisms.

While hydroxyl radicals have an extremely short half-life, they create a chain reaction where other radicals are formed so they can enter hard-to-reach spots for more extensive cleaning.

The generator process is simple:

  • A device with a base fan is turned on, which draws the air into the filter chamber. 
  • The air is then charged with the UV-C light. The air must remain in the chamber for a short time. Once released, it is attracted to certain particulates in the air. 
  • The particulates, such as water vapor, latch onto odors, VOCs, viruses, and bacteria. 
  • The molecule is neutralized, and it often falls to the ground. 

With most hydroxyl generators, surfaces need to be cleaned regularly for optimized indoor cleaning. However, some can filter the air and capture additional particulates. 

The Power Behind Hydroxyl Radicals

Hydroxyl radicals (OH) are oxidants that hold a neutral charge compared to the hydroxyl groups (−OH or HO−), also known as hydroxyl ions, that hold a negative charge. 

As they effectively and rapidly decompose chemicals in the air, hydroxyl radicals are sometimes called “nature’s broom.” They are vital to keeping the Earth’s atmosphere free of harmful compounds.

That power can also be harnessed for indoor spaces through hydroxyl generators. The generators can target and eliminate a wide range of odors—reacting with up to 5,000 different compounds and chemicals—including fungi, mold, VOCs, viruses, and bacteria. 

These radicals are among the most powerful oxidants in the world (behind fluorine), making them ideal for spaces that require deep cleaning.

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Debunking The Top 3 Myths About Hydroxyl Generators

If you are a facility manager or business owner and have researched hydroxyl generators, then chances are you learned about the device’s benefits but also came across some critics.

When you need a high-quality cleaning device for your building, then it is only natural you need assurance it works. However, you also want to ensure that the device you purchase will not cause harm to workers or customers. That is why it is important to know the facts and debunk some common myths about hydroxyl generators:

Myth #1: There is no real-world science that supports the safety and efficacy of hydroxyl generators. 

The power of hydroxyl radicals is real, and hydroxyl generators have undergone scientific testing to prove their effectiveness. 

Third parties and the FDA have assessed the effectiveness of hydroxyl generators. They concluded that the number of hydroxyl radicals produced could safely and effectively remove VOCs and odors. These studies have also evaluated the level of ozone emitted, which can be a harmful byproduct of specific generators, including hydroxyl generators. However, hydroxyl generators and air purifier systems that meet particular CARB Certification and UL Certifications have been deemed safe to operate in occupied spaces.

Myth #2: Hydroxyl generators require 60% humidity to be effective.

Hydroxyl generators using the patented technology will be effective with humidity as low as 5%. Contractors should never have to add humidity for their hydroxyl generators to work, particularly since this is counterproductive to most projects they are on. It is true that humidity plays a part in the chemical reactions that occur to create hydroxyl radicals (and oxy and peroxy radicals).

Myth #3: Strong fans are needed since the half-life of hydroxyl radicals is short.

Since the half-life of the hydroxyl radical is only half a second, some people believe that a large fan is needed to push the hydroxyl radicals to the far-reaching corners of one’s business. Patented technology that uses a chain reaction called the cascade effect creates new hydroxyl radicals throughout the space to eliminate odors and VOCs—even in hard-to-reach places.

Should I Get a Hydroxyl Generator for My Business?

Suppose you want to clean your space and remove foul odors, VOCs, viruses, bacteria, and other contaminants from your business or workspace. In that case, a hydroxyl generator is often a good investment. For instance, if you operate a restaurant and want to remove odors and improve air quality, a hydroxyl generator is a good choice. 

In addition to eliminating odors, it will remove VOCs emitted from industrial-grade appliances and cooking fuels such as liquid petroleum gas, charcoal, and wood. For other businesses that need an air purifier to reopen during the COVID pandemic, a hydroxyl generator is a good choice and can be purchased with the help of government funding

For more intensive cleaning and air purifiers, you can add multi-filter technology that cleans VOCs, odors, and viruses, as well as pet dander and debris.

Reopen Safely With Air Purifiers Using Hydroxyl Technology

Among all hydroxyl-based air cleaning technologies, ActivePure® Technology is the only one backed by proven real-world and extensive laboratory testing. If you need a comprehensive air and surface cleaner, especially if you are trying to reopen your business during the COVID pandemic, then Sanalife has the right ActivePure® solution for you.

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