Cleaning the air with COVID-19 killing technology

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COVID-19: a challenge on a global scale

It’s a story with which we are all, sadly, familiar. In late 2019 and early 2020, reports began to emerge of a new virus in Asia. The disease, named COVID-19 (coronavirus 2019) quickly gathered momentum and spread around the world.

It’s impact cannot be overstated. In addition, the hundreds of millions of cases and the tragic tally of deaths running into the millions, COVID-19 has affected the daily life of almost all of us.

All around the globe the word ‘lockdown’ has become all too familiar. Shops, cafes, restaurants, cinemas have been closed. As have sports facilities and international borders.

Many have had to work from their homes, drawing upon hastily innovated digital solutions with the potential to change our lives forever.

Others, involved in crucial industries such as manufacturing and food and medicine supply have had to continue their valuable work in an environment of significantly heightened risk.

The world responds: creating solutions in uncharted waters

As quicky as the disease spread, so did the attempts to contain it. Familiar traditions of hugging, kissing and shaking hands as a greeting disappeared overnight. Not only did physical contact cease, but people were asked to stand well away from one after; social distancing became the new buzzword.

Scientists scrambled into action in pursuit of cures and vaccines. Manufacturers switched their focus to the production of ventilators and air purifiers. People were asked not to travel and hand washing become a necessary international obsession.

Everyone, everywhere did what they could. However, the success of all these initiatives has been limited by our collective lack of knowledge; the virus caught practically everyone unaware.

The shortcomings of conventional viral prevention

This historic situation holds lessons for us all, however. New viruses will emerge in the future – in fact, many researchers conclude that their occurrence may well increase as the expanding populations of humanity come into ever closer contact with the natural world.

Introducing CLAIR; a future-facing solution

It’s a lesson that air filtration specialist JOA is determined not to waste. In fact, the company has developed a solution that has demonstrated its ability to eliminate airborne viruses – including COVID-19.

We see, e.g. from WHO publications that the majority of specialists become more and more aware of the risk of high concentration airborne aerosols, spreading the virus. This is not only happening in super-spread events, but, for example, also in schools.

It is a fact that only one in 1,000 infections take place in an outdoor environment. This is due to the 1.5 meter social distancing rule outdoors reduces airborne virus aerosol spread by 90%. The thinking behind JOA’s situation is replicate the outdoor situation, indoors.

CLAIR (CLean Air) is designed as a plug & play system for easy application in stand-alone or specially designed (mass produced) filter housings and standardized air handling units.

Killing COVID with CLAIR

CLAIR combines a low pressure drop multi-layer membrane with a patented nanotechnology photo catalytic oxidation (PCO) coating. The membrane collects airborne aerosols, fine particles and viruses – including COVID-19 – with high efficiency. The virus is then destroyed by UV light activated PCO.  

Applying CLean Air technology

The aim of CLAIR is to eliminate viruses in indoor areas including:

  • Nursing homes
  • Schools
  • Places of worship
  • Government buildings
  • Restaurants
  • Other areas where people gather together in numbers

Independently proven innovation

The CLAIR PCO membrane was tested with a direct virus-aerosol simulant by the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), indicating CLAIR’s capability to remove virus aerosols with an efficiency of 97.33% to 99.29%.

Next to that the applied nano technology, based on COVID elimination tests performed by Eurofins using the TCID50 (median tissue culture infectious dose) approach have shown CLAIR’s ability to reduce the presence of the captured virus in the membrane filter elements with 99.9% within four hours. Meaning no virus will survive the nano-coated filter element.

Relatively low membrane pressure drop which results in decreasing sound made by fan

Not only is CLAIR effective against COVID-19, but also against other airborne viruses. This means the approach is relevant in the face of any potential future viral outbreak. CLAIR is able to prevent the spread of viruses via ventilation and ensure a virus free environment, comparable to the outdoor ‘low-risk’ situation mentioned earlier.

An additional benefit is CLAIR’s capability to eliminate traces of volatile organic compounds (VOC) in an indoor environment. This contributes to a more wholesome, safer environment, providing great indoor air quality, ensuring CLAIR’s relevance also in the absence of viral pandemics.

The current state of play

JOA is currently holding discussion with potential partners with whom they could take the system to market. The company’s sees that that a partnership could be mutually beneficial.

For example, JOA offers a highly scalable production capacity for the required multi-layer membranes and PCO nano coating. Combining this with a partner that has a global commercial network in air conditioning/filtering/purifying could provide the means to get CLAIR into the marketplace quickly and help protect people from the spread of viral infection.

JOA is open to discussions examining a range of fast-to-market solutions, including transfer of IP rights or the establishment of a joint venture partnership. Next to that, as it is JOA’s aim to make the technology globally available in a flexible manner, the company is open to providing the nano-coating for other filter manufactures, to help make the indoor climate as safe as being outdoors.

JOA: applying in-house innovation for the greater good

JOA is dedicated, via its products and services, to creating healthy environments. It is with these values in mind that the company has set out to play its part in finding answers to challenges only recently highlighted by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, JOA was quick to look for solutions that might not only assist with the current situation, but also minimize the impact of any future pandemic that may arise.

It was a logical enough approach for a company committed to innovation. JOA’s core business model lies in the tailoring of its solutions to the specific requirements of its clients. As a result of this, the company has developed a strong tendency towards innovating solutions.

This innovation is driven by research and development, conducted at JOA’s in-house R&D department, located in the Netherlands, close to the renowned Technical University of Delft.

Through the combination of disruptive air filtration technologies with proven technology the company has previously distinguished itself on numerous occasions. It is via this same method, pairing innovation with reliability, that JOA is looking to approach the challenge of protecting indoor environments from virus infection.

Partnering to overcome legislative delays

One of the concerns JOA has with the new CLAIR technology is losing momentum because of time consuming BPR registration required by each country withing the European Economic Area (EU legislation). This is despite the fact that the filters can be used for air quality improvement (such as VOC removal), without requiring any registration. This becomes a requirement the moment CLAIR is used for COVID-19 elimination. This is a rather disappointing cause for delay, as CLAIR should not be qualified as a biocide, for the simple reason that it is an air filter. Especially when we take into account that the nano-coating generated (H)- radicals have an extremely short lifetime, this is an unacceptable delay on making schools, churches, restaurants, etc. as safe as being outdoors.

The power of collaboration

Within its work in innovation and R&D, JOA has seen first-hand the value of collaboration. Therefore, the company is now looking to join forces with international partners to form a synergic partnership that is not only of benefit to the two businesses, but to society as a whole.

Preparing for the next pandemic

As the global population continues to increase, and with the rising tide of globalization and urbanization, it is highly likely, if not inevitable, that COVID-19 will not be the last word on this subject. The CLAIR technology goes a considerable distance in offering preparedness the next time humanity is faced with a viral outbreak, killing not only COVID-19, but other viruses also. JOA firmly believes that we should act now in order to be prepared and to minimize the impact of any potential future virus.