Researchers at the University of Houston have developed a filtration system that can instantly neutralize and kill 99.8% of the coronavirus after a single pass through.
"It's basically a high-performance COVID-19 killer," Dr. Garrett Peel of Medistar, who helped craft the design, said according to Fox News.
The filter looks to be an important tool in fighting a virus that can remain in the air for hours and, in turn, spread more readily than viruses like the common flu. Harvard Health says that aerosolized coronavirus can remain in the air for up to three hours.
People who are asymptomatic can easily spread it to multiple people when they talk, breathe, cough, or sneeze.
In a world that has yet to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, an air filtration system is one of the best ways to combat the airborne disease at a time when businesses and schools are set to re-open across the country.
The filter was primarily designed by Zhifeng Ren, director of the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH, in collaboration with Monzer Hourani, CEO of Medistar, a Houston-based medical real estate development firm.
"This filter could be useful in airports and in airplanes, in office buildings, schools, and cruise ships to stop the spread of COVID-19," Ren, a co-author of the research paper said in a press release.
"Its ability to help control the spread of the virus could be very useful for society," Ren added.
Researchers describe the device as a "catch and kill" filter, made of commercially-available nickel foam that is heated to 392° F. Viruses like COVID-19 are unable to survive in temperatures above 158° F.
"It is porous, allowing the flow of air, and electrically conductive, which allowed it to be heated," Ren said in a statement. "It is also flexible."
When heated, the filter is able to kill 99.8% of COVID-19 that passed through it during laboratory tests, along with 99.9% of anthrax spores.
University of Houstonvia Steven Saing / Flickr
The developers of the filter would like it to be rolled out to organizations in order of importance.
Peel says it should be deployed "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."
"We want to roll this out of Texas first and start deploying them in schools, nursing homes," Peel added. "This unit could be deployed in 60 days."
Researchers also hope to develop a smaller, desktop version that people can put on their desks at work to protect them from airborne COVID-19.
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