Steam coil cleaning saves energy at GA Tech

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Steam Coil Cleaning Saves Energy: A Case Study

Originally published as a case for Pure Air Control Services and reprinted in the Spring 2017 Issue of HVAC/P Magazine.

The Project:

Georgia Tech University, founded in 1885, covers over 400 acres and has 275 buildings with 9 million square feet which are occupied by over 25,000 students. Georgia Tech is a leading technology and science university renowned for their deeply-held commitment towards improving the human condition. The faculty and students are solving some of the world’s most pressing challenges: clean and sustainable energy; disease diagnosis and treatment; and national security, among others. The campus of Georgia Tech participates in the Green Buzz and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.

The Concern:

With energy costs rising, Georgia Tech University had taken a close look at HVAC maintenance, including the total operating cost of its HVAC system. They found that the conventional coil cleaning foam/rinse method only superficially cleaned the surface of the coil and pushed small debris further into the coil causing decreased air flow, a musty odor, decreased temperature and humidity control, and decreased the quality of the indoor air. In addition, Georgia Tech was concerned about the thousands of gallons of chemicals that would otherwise be sent into the waste water system polluting the environment.

The forward-thinking facility staff at Georgia Tech felt these dirty coils were a pot of gold buried in dust and debris within these air handling systems. They wanted to see if steam coil cleaning saves energy. It turned out that they were right.

The Solution:

Due to Georgia Tech’s desire for going green, saving energy and providing a healthy learning environment for staff, guests and students they turned to the building scientists at Pure Air Control Services and their innovative process for cleaning evaporator coils: PURE-Steam Coil Cleaning. The process is totally green (no chemicals) certified by the Green Clean Institute (one of the few in the country) and has a proven track record for saving energy, improving indoor air quality and improving comfort.

The Process:

The PURE-Steam coil cleaning process is an environmentally friendly, green, service. It uses no chemicals or detergents. Instead, it utilizes high temperatures (up to 350° F) and low pressures to deeply cleanse the coils without damaging them. The coils and air handling unit, including the blower assembly, rails, and pan, are completely sanitized because of the high temperatures. Traditional cleaning methods use chemicals to clean the surface of the coils, but often actually push debris deeper resulting in even more restricted airflow. The pressures in combination with the temperatures at which PURE-Steam operates ensures that latent debris and microbial growth is thoroughly removed from the coils. The debris and wastewater is captured by HEPA wet vacuums and disposed of properly.

Beyond the reduction in microbial growth and volatile organic compounds, which improves indoor air quality, post PURE-Steam studies exhibit a typical energy savings of 14¢-22¢ per square foot or an average of $60 per ton.

The Outcome:

Steam Coil Cleaning Saves Energy


After the steam coil cleaning services, Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory analyzed samples taken from the air handling units. When compared to the before samples it was reported that Georgia Tech recognized a 97.01% microbial reduction in mold spore content. This reduction led to a marked improvement in their facility’s indoor air and environmental quality.

Steam Coil Cleaning Saves Energy & Improves Comfort:

Based upon a NEBB study that Georgia Tech commissioned, a 42.6% improvement in air flow (CFM’s) across the air handling unit and a decrease in inches in water column of 21.2% was realized. Pure Air Control Services Building Sciences division also noted a 21.3% improvement in Delta P (pressure) across the surface of the coils. These optimizations have ultimately led to better system performance, fewer service calls, and lower energy costs.

With the PURE-Steam coil cleaning process the university was able to add back almost 7 tons of air conditioning to the building improving comfort, temperature control, indoor air quality, energy efficiency, and extending equipment life.

The verdict is that the high temperature, low pressure, and green certified PURE-Steam coil cleaning process was a successful endeavor for Georgia Tech University. THerefore, steam coil cleaning saves energy!

For more information on this project, and PURE-Steam please call 1-800-422-7873 or contact us HERE.

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PURE-Steam Georgia Tech Case Study Pure Steam Indoor Air Quality Article