US researchers have designed a filter to catch and kill the coronavirus behind COVID-19
Researchers at the University of Houston say they’ve created a filter capable of removing airborne COVID-19 particles from indoor settings.
The research was published in Materials Today Physics and was done in collaboration with Medistar, a Houston-based medical real-estate development firm.
The filters were made out of nickel foam heated to about 200° Celsius (392° Fahrenheit) and were capable of removing 99.8% of the novel SARS-CoV-2 particles that passed through it a single time. A heated filter was chosen because previous research has shown that the virus can’t survive temperatures of 70° Celsius (158° Fahrenheit), researchers said.
Should they reach the market, the filters could be installed as part of the existing ventilation systems in public indoor spaces, such as airplanes. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that the virus can remain airborne for up to three hours.
“This filter could be useful in airports and in airplanes, in office buildings, schools, and cruise ships to stop the spread of COVID-19. Its ability to help control the spread of the virus could be very useful for society,” Zhifeng Ren, a physics professor at the university and one of the lead authors of the study, said in a press release.
Executives with Medistar are now hoping to design a filter that can be placed on desks in offices so the air around individual work stations can be purified, Ren said.
Nevertheless, health experts such as prominent ER physician Dr. Megan Ranney warn that people should still practice social distancing and wearing masks when in public indoor spaces even if filters were to be installed in a building.
“This type of filter could—if it really works—would help to decrease the amount of circulating virus in a closed space,” she told Forbes magazine. “But if two people are sitting face to face, and one coughs on the other, even the best filtration system in the world won’t protect the second person from being infected.”
Photo: iStock/Maksim Tkachenko.