UCT student develops multipurpose UVC sanitiser

Date:13 May 2020 Author: Adrian Brown

This University of Cape Town (UCT) student took a challenge from his professor to the next level by creating a device that could be a great help right now: a multipurpose UVC sanitiser.

UCT Professor Amit Mishra challenged his engineering students to design devices which are able to counter COVID-19. Rowyn Naidoo is now close to finalising his design for an “affordable, smart short-wavelength ultraviolet-C (UVC) light system that disinfects surfaces, the air and large rooms – and even face masks, making them reusable.”

UVC light is known to fight off viruses and other micro-organisms by killing nucleic acids and disrupting their DNA.

In a release published by UCT News, Naidoo explained that he considered the campus when taking up his professors challenge.

“I took the route of how we can destroy or inactivate the actual viruses that are around on a large scale, with a view towards getting our campuses and similar spaces functioning normally, but safely,” said Naidoo.

This is what led him to the UVC light. In a report that Naidoo cited, it is stated that UVC radiation can render the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19) non-infectious because “it damages its RNA sequence, breaking its bonds in a way that stops its ability to replicate. Colloquially, it may be said that UVC radiation ‘kills’ the virus that causes COVID-19.”

Of course, UVC light is not new technology. Naidoo is leveling it up by creating a “simple and affordable smart sanitising system using UVC”. His design makes use of layers of alluminium foil and other reused materials.

The Design

Making use of a combination of wall or ceiling lamps and occupancy detection sensors to check if a room is empty. “It then automatically and safely switches on the UVC lights to irradiate the air and surfaces for the required amount of time, then automatically switches off for effective, economical disinfection.”

The design includes safety measures such as trip switches and ensures that no operational labour is required.

The Outcome 

The device will keep people safe, and can be used for more than one purpose. It disinfects the air, which means there will be fewer airborne illnesses, it is infects surfaces and can distinfect facemasks, which solves the problem of the low supply.

Image: Twitter / UCT

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