Air ventilation in enclosed spaces has become essential with the coronavirus pandemic. When it comes to a virus that is transmitted mainly through respiratory secretions, closed and / or unventilated rooms are especially favorable for its transmission.

A classroom of 25 students needs at least five air changes per hour to reduce the risk of contagion from Covid

In fact, in many schools they are choosing to keep the classroom windows open to renew the air and thus reduce the danger of contagion between students and teachers; a solution that becomes more complicated as temperatures decrease with the arrival of winter.

For this reason, a new disinfection system that neutralizes the virus in just a few minutes could be a useful and effective new option for cleaning the air; not only from schools, but from other establishments, such as hospitals or shops. It is precisely what they are working on since ‘Cedrion’, a company dedicated to the design and manufacture of ionic wind devices, which is developing a device capable of fully disinfecting both air and surfaces.

“What we do are devices that generate plasma. That is, we subject the ambient air to a very strong electric field”explains the 20minutos Enrique Medina, CEO of ‘Cedrión’. “Then, inside the neutral particles of the air, those electrons are torn off and ions are generated, which are slightly larger particles,” he adds.

Within this process, Medina says, up to 70 different species can be generated (ultraviolet rays, peroxides, ozone, nitrogen oxides, etc.). “These particles have a very short useful life – because they are very unstable – and then they recombine again to be neutral particles in the air again. At that time they are ‘alive’, they are one of the most promising technologies to kill viruses and bacteria “, states.

Capable of disinfecting in 10-12 minutes

In ‘Cedrión’ they have been working on this system since listeriosis outbreak originated in the summer of 2019 in the shredded meat ‘La Mechá’. “We were testing how we killed bacteria with this plasma; with these ions generated through the air. And we obtained quite interesting results,” says Medina. “So with the arrival of Covid-19, what we’ve been testing is if we could do the same for the virus.”

Listeria inactivation in one minute.
Listeria inactivation in one minute.

In this way, they have been experimenting at the Veterinary Faculty of the University of León, with a type of coronavirus (which is not SARS-CoV-2) and that reaches pigs, not humans. “We have obtained magnificent results, killing in around 10-12 minutes with more than 99.9% of the cells that were infected with the virus”, says the CEO of Cedrión.

“The objective is to generate it both for hospitals and for all spaces that have viruses and bacteria”

Now, the next step is to test the new coronavirus. According to Medina, they have already agreed with the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and with the National Center for Biotechnology (one of those in charge of working on the coronavirus vaccine) to be able to test it in their laboratory starting in November, and they hope to have the device ready for distribution between December and January 2021. “The objective is to generate it both for hospitals and for all spaces that have viruses and bacteria that are transmitted in the same way, “he explains.

Cleans both the air and surfaces

This technology has two major applications. On the one hand, it is a box (about the size of a computer tower) that, “in a room with people, what it does is move the air, while killing viruses and bacteria; so that you are always breathing clean air within that spaceThe system also does not require any fan, so it does not produce any sound, as it does not have moving parts.

On the other hand, the device would be also able to clean surfaces when no one is inside the room. “In that same box, if instead of containing the ions (which are the ones that are cleaning the air), you remove them, what they do in the end is generate an atmosphere that disinfects the surfaces of a room; such as tables, fabrics, metals, etc. “. In short, it is a completely autonomous system, which does not require any consumables, and which in approximately half an hour could clean all surfaces in a room.

“Our goal is for it to be a very small and portable system. We are thinking that it can clean environments between 30 and 35 square meters; therefore, for larger spaces, the logical thing would be to introduce more systems ”, states Medina.

System test bench.
System test bench.

Useful for neutralizing other viruses and bacteria

Furthermore, this innovative technology would also be able to neutralize other types of viruses and bacteria, which would make it a very effective tool to disinfect any space. “Right now we are very focused on coronaviruses, we have tested and we continue testing in the Faculty of Food Science and Technology, with the different bacteria (listeria, pseudomonas, staphylococci, etc.) most common in food environments and in hospitals “, explains Enrique Medina, adding that the aim is to manufacture a device that is constantly cleaning the air, “what happens is that now this type of virus is more urgent.”

This system, therefore, is a comfortable and effective solution to one of the main problems today: the transmission of Covid-19 in closed spaces. Thus, depending on the needs of each environment (an operating room does not require the same purity as a store), the air would be cleaning three or four times an hour, practically guaranteeing total sterilization.