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Heated Air Filter Kills SARS-CoV-2 Instantly

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 23 Jul 2020
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Image: A new nickel foam filter can kill SARS-CoV-2 in seconds (Photo courtesy of UH)
Image: A new nickel foam filter can kill SARS-CoV-2 in seconds (Photo courtesy of UH)
A new “catch and kill” air filter made of nickel foam can trap the virus responsible for COVID-19, killing it instantly, claims a new study.

Developed at the University of Houston (UH; TX, USA), Medistar (Houston, TX, USA), Galveston National Laboratory (GNL; TX, USA), and other institutions, the filter is made of flexible nickel foam. The result is a system that is both porous, allowing air to flow through it, and electrically conductive, allowing it to be heated. By connecting together an array of folded nickel foam compartments with electrical wires, the electrical resistance can be raised to a temperature as high as 250O C.

A prototype was then built and subsequently tested at the GNL for its ability to kill the virus. The test revealed that 99.8% of aerosolized SARS-CoV-2 was caught and killed by a single pass through the nickel foam based filter when heated to 200 °C. The filter was also caught and killed 99.9% of the airborne spore Bacillus anthracis, which causes Anthrax. And as the heat is generated internally, the filter satisfies the requirements for conventional heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. The study was published on July 7, 2020, in Materials Today Physics.

“This study paves the way for preventing transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and other highly infectious airborne agents in closed environments. Its ability to help control the spread of the virus could be very useful for society,” concluded senior author professor of physics Zhifeng Ren, PhD, of the UH. “This filter could be useful in airports and in airplanes, office buildings, schools, and cruise ships to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Nickel is a naturally-occurring metallic element with a silvery-white, shiny appearance. It is the fifth-most common element on earth and is found extensively in the earth’s crust and core. Nickel, along with iron, is also a common element in meteorites, and is also found in small quantities in plants, animals, and seawater. Its physical and chemical properties make it essential in hundreds of thousands of products, with its biggest use in alloys, such as chromium and other metals to produce stainless and heat-resisting steels.

Related Links:
University of Houston
Galveston National Laboratory

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