The Department of Science and Technology (DST) on Monday said that an air purifying technology developed by an incubatee company of the Pune-based Science and Technology Park (STP or Scitech Park) could offer an effective solution to the country’s fight against the coronavirus COVID-19 contagion by reducing the viral load of the infected areas.

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The DST, in a release on Monday, announced that it has released a sum of ₹1crore to manufacture and scale up the product titled ‘Scitech Airon’ and that 1,000 units of this new air purifier would soon be ready for installation in various hospitals across Maharashtra.

The technology has been developed under the ‘Nidhi Prayas’ programme initiated by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). Another city-based company, J-Clean Weather Tech, is manufacturing the product.

“The negative ion generator titled ‘Scitech Airon’ helps to control the virus, bacteria, and other fungal infections in a closed environment and could help purify the air and disinfect areas around COVID-19 positive cases and suspects. Hence it could ensure the wellbeing of the staff, doctors, and nurses who are working round the clock in quarantine facilities by enhancing their disease-resistance power and ability to fight the virus,” said the DST release.

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According to Dr. Rajendra Jagdale, Director General of STP, a single hour of operation of the ion generator machine, which costs around ₹40,000 including GST, has the potential to reduce viral load within a room by 99.7% depending upon its size.

The air purifier is compact in form, weighing a mere 9 kg and barely 1.5 feet in height, a foot wide and ten inches deep, rendering it highly convenient for use in enclosed spaces like hospitals, clinics, flats and other spaces like railways, airports and theatres to make them “virus-free” zones, the release said.

The ionizer machine generates negatively charged ions at approximately hundred million per 8 seconds (10 ions per sec).

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The negative ions generated by the ionizer form clusters around microparticles such as airborne mould, corona or influenza viruses, bacteria among other pollutants and renders them inactive through a complex chemical reaction by creating highly reactive hydroxyl radicals and atmospheric detergents (hydroxyl groups are composed of one hydrogen atom bonded to one oxygen atom and denoted as -OH or HO-).

The detergent property thus generated by the ion generator aids the breakdown of the outer protein of the allergens, viruses and bacteria, thus checking airborne diseases and increasing the body’s resistance to possible infections, the release said.