José Manuel NievesSEGUIRMadrid Updated: Save Send news by mail electrónicoTu name *

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A team of researchers from the University of Houston has just announced the development of a new air filter that is able to “trap and kill” the coronavirus responsible of the Covid-19 instantly. The work has been published in the journal Materials Today, Physics.

In their paper, the researchers report that during the tests carried out at the National Laboratory in Galveston managed to eliminate, with a single pass through the new filter, up to 99.8% of the SARS-Co-2. The filter is made of foam nickel (a material that is commercially available) and heated to 200 degrees. The same filter also ended up with 99.9% of the anthrax spores used in the tests.

“This filter -explains Zhifeng Ren, one of the authors of the research could be useful in airports and airplanes, in office buildings, schools, and cruise ships to stop the spread of the COVID-19. Your ability to control the spread of the virus could be very useful for the society”. The researchers, said Ren, they are also working on a desktop model capable of purifying the air in the immediate surroundings of an office employee.

The scientist explained that the project is the result of the collaboration with the company Medistar, who came to the Supercomputing Center of Texas, University of Houston, the past 31 of march in search of aid for the development of an air filter capable of trapping the coronavirus, that in those dates already began to spread to the united States.

researchers already knew that the virus can remain in the air for about three hours, which means that a filter able to remove it was a viable plan. And with the imminent reopening of businesses, was of vital importance to find a system capable of controlling the propagation in closed spaces and with air conditioning.

Medistar also knew that the virus can not survive temperatures above 70 degrees celsius, so the researchers decided to use a filter warmed up. To make the temperature of the filter was much higher, around 200 degrees, the virus would die almost instantly.

Ren was suggested to use foam nickel, since this material meet several essential requirements: it is porous, it allows air flow, is flexible and also a good conductor of electricity, which facilitates its heating. The problem was the low resistivity of the foam nickel, which hindered the task of raising the temperature enough to kill the virus quickly. The researchers resolved it by bending the foam and connecting the multiple compartments with electrical wiring in order to increase the resistance enough so that the temperature of the filter to reach up to 250 degrees.

The first prototype was built in a local workshop and was tested, first, in the laboratory of Ren to determine the relationship between voltage/current and temperature; and then in the laboratory in Galveston for analysis of its ability to kill the virus. According to Ren, the new filter meets all requirements for conventional systems of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.

it Is, therefore, a new technology of protection of indoor air and could become, according to the researchers, in the first line of biodefense against the transmission of SARS CoV-2 through the air in closed environments.

Ren and his colleagues believe that the deployment of the device should be gradual, “starting with areas of high priority where essential workers have a high risk of exposure, such as schools, hospitals, medical facilities, public transportation, or aircraft”.