A recent study from the University of Huston showcased a case study involving a newly developed air filter that is aimed to limit the spread of COVID-19. The study was published in the journal Materials Today Physics, detailing the results of a new air-filtering device that can stop 99.8% of all SARS-CoV-2 virus cells in a single pass.
The study itself was the result of a new device that is still in the development stages. The biggest outcome of the study was the number of applications such a device would have.
According to Zhifeng Ren, co-author of the study, the air filter could be used in airports, airplanes, buildings, and cruise ships. Due to the effectiveness of the filter, it can have a significant impact on the prevention and reduction of COVID-19 infection rates. Most of the test results focused on commercial and public applications of the device. The authors emphasized that smaller versions can be designed with the same efficiency for regular home use.
To achieve such results, the design of the air filter took a very important aspect into account. The virus cannot survive when exposed to temperatures above 70 degrees Celsius. The filter pulls in ambient air, passing it through a heating element that reaches 200 degrees, then pushing it out. The resulting air pushed out of the filter, is cooled down and virus-free.
To obtain sustainable and consistent results, the research team had to test different materials. Getting the heating element up to the required temperature fast was vital. For this reason, a special nickel foam was used. The nickel foam was folded and because it has a naturally low resistance, it had to be connected to more electrical wires. With more electric wires and the folded design increased its electrical resistance, allowing the nicker foam to heat up faster. This method also allowed the filtered air to exit at a lower temperature. The alternative to heating the Nickel foam using an independent system would have resulted in higher air temperature for the air exiting the device.
Faisal Cheema, a co-author of the study from the University of Huston recognized an additional value in their device. Due to how it is designed, it can be integrated into HVAC systems, service a double purpose. It can be part of HVAC systems that can heat air or it can be integrated into an air conditioner.
The research team emphasized that the first use cases of their device should focus on high-priority venues such as worker environments, schools, public transportation, and hospitals. No details regarding commercialization plans for such an air filtering device were offered.
Medistar, a medical device manufacturer showed their interest in making small scale filters using the same design. Their filters would be designed for regular everyday use at the office or on a desk. Dr. Garrett Peel of Medistar contributed to the design of the filter and claimed that Texas will be the first state to receive such filtering devices. The first facilities that would get the filters would be schools and nursing homes. Dr. Garrett estimated that these devices can be deployed in 60 days.