By Rafaela Prifti /
A University of Houston team has designed a new air filter that they say can kill COVID-19 instantly. The findings of the tests were published in a research paper published in Materials Today Physics. Conducted at the Galveston National Laboratory, the tests show that 99.8 % of the virus was killed in a single pass through the air filter. The filter, described in detail in the paper, is made from commercially available nickel foam heated to 200 degrees Centigrade. Director of the Texas Center for Superconductivity at University of Houston, Zhifeng Ren, collaborated with Monzer Hourani, CEO of Medistar, a Houston-based medical real estate development firm, and other researchers to develop the filter. The release by the University of Houston states that the filter could be useful for killing COVID-19 in public places.
The virus cannot survive temperatures above 70 degrees Centigrade, about 158 degrees Fahrenheit, so the researchers used a heated filter by setting the temperature to 200 degrees Centigrade. The electrically heated filter minimized the amount of heat that escaped from the filter, allowing air conditioning to function with minimal strain. The indoor air protection technology provides protection and prevention against transmission of airborne SARS-CoV-2 and will be on the forefront of technologies available to combat the current pandemic and any future airborne bio-threats in indoor environments, say the researchers.
In high-risk states such as Florida, Texas and Arizona, efforts are being made to provide the filters “in the next 60 days.” The team has called for a phased roll-out of the device, “beginning with high-priority venues, where essential workers are at elevated risk of exposure -particularly schools, hospitals and health care facilities, as well as public transit environs such as airplanes.” Medistar Executives are proposing a desk-top model, capable of purifying the air in an office worker’s immediate surroundings. Director Ren said a prototype satisfied the requirements for conventional heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Since the recent announcement indicating the virus airborne features, there was an added urgency to control the spread of the virus in air-conditioned spaces such as office buildings, schools, homes etc. According to the report, HVAC systems can be retrofitted with the filters and the filters can clean the air up to 12 times per hour. Adding that it will get very hot, yet it should not be a fire hazard since it’s contained in a frame that can withstand up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
By way of warning, the report states that the filter isn’t a fix-all. Wearing masks and practicing social distancing are still effective in combating the virus.
By Rafaela Prifti /