Reduction of airborne viral particles in enclosed spaces is critical in controlling pandemics. Three different hollow fiber membrane (HFM) modules were investigated for viral aerosol separation in enclosed spaces. Pore structures were characterized by scanning electron microscopy, and air transport properties were measured. Particle removal efficiency was characterized using aerosols generated by a collision atomizer from a defined mixture of synthetic nanoparticles including SARS-CoV-2 mimics (protein-coated 100 nm polystyrene). HFM1 (polyvinylidene fluoride, ∼50-1300 nm pores) demonstrated 96.5-100% efficiency for aerosols in the size range of 0.3-3 μm at a flow rate of 18.6 ± 0.3 SLPM (∼1650 LMH), whereas HFM2 (polypropylene, ∼40 nm pores) and HFM3 (hydrophilized polyether sulfone, ∼140-750 nm pores) demonstrated 99.65-100% and 98.8-100% efficiency at flow rates of 19.7 ± 0.3 SLPM (∼820 LMH) and 19.4 ± 0.2 SLPM (∼4455 LMH), respectively. Additionally, lasting filtration with minimal fouling was demonstrated using ambient aerosols over 2 days. Finally, each module was evaluated with pseudovirus (vesicular stomatitis virus) aerosol, demonstrating 99.3% (HFM1), >99.8% (HFM2), and >99.8% (HFM3) reduction in active pseudovirus titer as a direct measure of viral particle removal. These results quantified the aerosol separation efficiency of HFMs and highlight the need for further development of this technology to aid the fight against airborne viruses and particulate matter concerning human health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-262
Number of pages12
JournalACS ES and T Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 11 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Chemical Society.


  • COVID-19
  • PM
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • bioaerosol
  • indoor air

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Chemical Health and Safety
  • Environmental Chemistry


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