Modern air conditioning systems are, or can be in some cases, much more sophisticated and efficient than most drivers may think. It is true that they continue to involve the compression of a gas, followed by expansion to lower the temperature, thus producing the cold air that we love so much. But the more sophisticated versions – and necessarily more expensive – manage to perform real miracles, in the sense of protecting the health of those who go on board.
Dust, pollen, polluting gases, bacteria and viruses that come on board through air conditioning (A / C) are impressive. The simplest devices are equipped with filters that only retain impurities and larger ones. But there are others that mount more efficient filters, the ones called HEPA, of High Efficiency Particulate Air (there are several levels of HEPA filters, the most efficient being classified as hospital level), which already capture much smaller particles and, potentially, even bacteria It's virus. Although they do not settle the latter.
Good, but not hospital grade. S & X were designed to be proof against an actual bioweapon attack. Requires a giant filter with separate acid & alkaline gas neutralization layers. Not enough room in Model 3.
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 10, 2018
If HEPA filters work in tune with systems that ionize air molecules on board, which destroy pollen, mold and bacteria, then we are facing an A / C capable of canceling allergens, pollutants and microorganisms that could endanger health. This is the case for the A / C assembled by Audi, for example, in its vehicles above the A6 and Q7 ranges.
An A / C against chemical weapons attack?
The most sophisticated system of air conditioning, or air treatment, if you prefer, is offered by Tesla exclusively for the Model S and Model X. These vehicles are equipped with a system that the brand calls Bioweapon Defense Mode which, basically, once actuated, in parallel with the recirculation of the indoor air, it is able to protect the occupants even in the face of gases used in chemical wars, according to the manufacturer. Among other solutions available to these vehicles is a HEPA filter of large dimensions and hospital level, which cancels bacteria and viruses. The video above shows how it works.
The smaller and cheaper Model 3 has installed a more effective system than normal, but without using the same type of filter, essentially due to lack of space, as explained by the Tesla CEO via Twitter, as it is a smaller vehicle to install objects of such generous dimensions on board. Still, a video test demonstrates that even Model 3 manages to nullify very small particles, since after starting to work with solid matter with dimensions of 135 microns, it filters it until particles with only 2.5 microns remain.
Believing in the claims of the mentioned brands, Audi and Tesla respectively (we were unable to get timely responses from the other manufacturers contacted), everything indicates that their most sophisticated air conditioning and air treatment systems should be able to filter the air to the point of nullifying or, at the limit, considerably reducing exposure to bacteria and viruses, such as Covid-19.