Baltimore-based auxiliary equipment maker Novatec Inc. has invented an air sterilization machine that it says can mitigate the level of COVID-19 virus pathogens present in factory air by removing dust and particulate from work areas.
The patent-pending technology, called ScrubX Sanitizing System, consists of a multi-stage air circulator, scrubber and sanitizer that Novatec says traps airborne particulate and then kills any viral matter with a multi-staged ultraviolet system.
The air enters a system designed to remove most of the dust, then directs it to a collection container with ultraviolet C (UVC) germicidal lamps, or more precisely, a narrow band of UV light called "far-UVC."
Any factory dust that is too fine for the ScrubX enters a second-stage filter that has more UVC lamps and a 0.1-micron ultra HEPA filter, which Novatec says removes dust and small pathogens, including coronavirus.
ScrubX is a next-generation product developed for issues related to plastic dust in the factory, Biplab Pal, chief technology officer and co-founder of Novatec's sister company, MachineSense LLC, told Plastics News.
MachineSense designed the built-in controls to measure the air quality index, filter status and particulate levels for complete remote monitoring of suspended pathogen and dust levels. The control system receives feedback from particulate monitoring sensors located in dust-prone areas.
"Submicron particulates are always bad for human health. It damages lungs. But with COVID-19, [the particulates] are making the factory environment highly contagious for virus transmission," Pal said. "Research has shown that most of the COVID-19 virus transmission happens indoors and via air-borne forms. It's also well-known masks do very little to stop 0.1 micron Covid-19. Therefore, it is imperative that factories have to do their best to clean the plastic dust in real-time before the particulates become carriers of the COVID-19."
UV light kills pathogens by damaging their DNA. The technology has been used for years to sterilize surgical rooms, research labs, HVAC ducts and in the semiconductor and food industries. Now there is growing interest in the technology for public transit, office buildings, schools and restaurants to help reduce coronavirus transmission.
New York City recently began testing UVC irradiation on subway cars and buses. China is doing that already. A bus company in Shanghai says the technology reduced it disinfection time from 40 minutes to 5 minutes with less labor.
Also, Amazon announced it is working on an ultraviolet robot to disinfect its warehouses and Whole Foods stores. A video shared recently with CBS News' 60 Minutes shows the robot, which consists of a metal frame on wheels that is equipped with UV tube lights, rolling down a freezer aisle aiming its blue light at glass doors and handles.