Benefits Of Ionisation In Server Rooms & High Tech Environments


The use of air ionisers in the home has become more prevalent in recent years thanks to their ability to purify the air and provide a healthier and more refreshing living environment.

However, air ionisers are not only useful in home environments. Offices, server rooms and high tech settings can benefit greatly from the use of air ionisation, as ionisers work to eliminate the static build-up that is prevalent in these settings. As technology advances, electronic components are becoming more static electricity-sensitive. This static electricity builds up on computer equipment, products, and surfaces, and can cause problems if not tackled.

Static is a particular problem in server rooms and other high tech settings as a discharge that affected a critical component could quickly cause a cascade of issues that may result in site wide disruption that could be catastrophic if not resolved quickly.

What Causes Static?

Static, or electrostatic discharge (ESD), is caused by friction. Any object rubbing against another object can cause static, and it can also be generated by the simple action of one surface touching another, and then separating.

Insulating mediums such as plastic are more likely to cause static than conductive materials, but it can be generated by any material under the right circumstances.

How Is Static Eliminated?

The most efficient way to eliminate static is to ground the object that is emitting the static charge. Grounding is usually done by using a conductor (typically a cable) that provides a direct path to the Earth for the charge, directing it away from the object.

In some settings, particularly those involving sensitive electronic equipment, grounding to earth cannot be used as the discharge to earth could itself damage these components. In these cases air ionisers are used which allows for the gradual and controlled neutralisation of any static charge that is present.

Ionisers are useful for removing static charge from a variety of different materials, and in a wide range of industries, including:

  • Plastics
  • Textiles
  • Glass
  • Printing
  • Spray Painting & Coating
  • Adhesives
  • Explosives

How Do Ionisers Work?

Air ionisers produce negative ions, which are essentially charged molecules that attach themselves to ions of the opposite polarity, when they come into contact with a charged surface. This neutralises the charge on those ions, releasing the static electricity quickly and effectively.

Do Ionisers Require Airflow?

This depends on the type of ioniser chosen – some need airflow in order to work properly whilst others don’t. This allows users to choose an ioniser that best suits their working environment.

Electrical ionisers generate ions through a process known as corona discharge, wherein a high voltage is applied to a sharp point (or a number of sharp points), creating the charged ion particles. An airflow can then be introduced in order to distribute these ions evenly throughout an environment.

There are also non-electric ionisers, which employ nuclear elements to create ions. These are less commonly used and are most common in environments where flammable or explosive materials are used.

How Does Humidity Affect Static Charge?

Humidity is a factor in how certain insulating materials hold static charge. These materials tend to be the highest in conductivity when the humidity is high (more than 50%).

For this reason, it seems logical that adding to the moisture content of the air would be a useful measure in reducing static. However, research has found that even in conditions of high humidity, static charge can be generated and maintained for a significant amount of time.

Not only this, but humidity can also cause issues with electronics and in manufacturing, making it an ineffective and unreliable method of reducing static in any working environment.

Benefits Of Ionisation

Left unchecked, ESD in a manufacturing environment can impact productivity and the quality of finished products. In server rooms and other environments with sensitive electronic equipment, static attracts dust and can cause performance issues or even permanent damage to equipment.

The damage caused by static discharges falls into three categories:

  1. Damage to products or components, caused by a direct ESD event
  2. Short-circuits caused by electromagnetic interference (EMI) from an ESD event
  3. Surface contamination caused by electrostatic attraction (ESA)

Whilst not all air ionisers will be able to protect against all three of these types of damage, the type of device your business or environment requires will depend on what needs to be accomplished by the ionisation of the atmosphere.

To choose the right ioniser for your purposes, you will need to ask several questions regarding what you need to achieve, rather than how you want to achieve it.

  1. What discharge speed is necessary to balance positive and negative ions? This will depend on the activity being conducted in the room, and thus how much static is typically being generated.
  2. What decay time is required in order to produce a satisfactory level of protection for products or components? When discussing air purification, decay times will depend on the chemical lifetime of air pollutants, matched with the efficiency of air dispersion. In the case of ESD, this refers to the dispersion of ions versus the dissemination of static charge created during business processes.
  3. What installation considerations need to be taken into account? This means thinking about the space and how ions will be distributed. You might consider individual ionisers for each workstation, or may decide that a room ioniser is the best option for a large space with a high rate of static charge.
  4. What other factors are important? Think about operation and safety, maintenance considerations, cost and reliability.

Airius PureAir

The PureAir series from Airius is a combination air purification and airflow circulation system, which uses the latest in Photohydroionisation (PHI) Cell technology from RGF Environmental, one of the worlds leading specialists in air, water and food purification, to neutralise everything from static to airborne germs, viruses and bacteria from any internal environment.

Using fans to continuously circulate the atmosphere, the integrated RGF PHI Cell emits ‘Ionised Hydroperoxides’, a naturally occurring cleaning agent that is also responsible for the ‘clean air’ smell we enjoy after thunderstorms. Installed in any environment, the PureAir System works 24 hours a day to ensure that any environment remains clean, healthy and without damaging static charge.

Research into PHI Cell purification has noted significant benefits in workplace environments, with findings indicating:

  • More than 99% of surface bacteria and viruses destroyed
  • More than 97% of airborne bacteria and viruses destroyed
  • Odours reduced by over 99%
  • Mould reduced by 98%
  • 78% of microbes killed at just 1 metre from the source
  • Increases in staff productivity
  • Reductions in employee sick days
  • Reduction of ‘sick building syndrome’

For server rooms and other high tech environments, PHI technology offers a productive and safe way to remove static, clean the air and boost employee productivity all in one.

To find out about our range of PHI fans and how they can help you then please get in touch with us by calling on 01202 554 200 or sending us an email to