New air purification technology targets hospital infection control
A novel new air purification technology has been developed to help battle infection in hospitals and other healthcare settings. The patented technology integrates with existing building HVAC and mechanical filtration systems to effectively remove airborne bacteria, yeasts, molds, and viruses.
Currently operating with the temporary product name “PureAir,” under the auspices of Leap Enterprise and Investments Ltd. (Richon Le Zion, Israel), the system uses a unique absorption system composed of an aqueous solution of mineral salts (oxidant brine) passed through an electrolytic cell to increase its redox potential (300 to 450 mV). Air is passed through the solution where biological contaminants are absorbed and denatured. The system can treat indoor air volumes at the rate of 2,000 cubic meters per hour.
The system is the brainchild of David Itzhak, PhD, associate professor in the Materials Engineering Department at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva, Israel. As he explains, his original interest first arose as the result of first-hand experience with foul-smelling air while awaiting treatment in a hospital facility several years ago. Using his background and experience with water purification technology, he would later develop the prototype air purification system and arrange with a group of physicians at a major Israeli hospital to conduct a feasibility study.
The eight-month beta-site trial, conducted in the hospital’s pediatric ICU (approximately 700 m3), demonstrated an 80% reduction in CFUs. As noted by Itzhak, the efficiency percentage will vary according to the level of control maintained in the environment, such as the number of times doors are opened. On average, when running continuously, the typical result after three hours was 70% and continued to improve over time.
Separate in vitro testing was also conducted to determine the system’s specific effectiveness against viruses. The results showed major reduction (five orders of magnitude) of both polio and adenovirus. Says Itzhak, “Unlike mechanical filtration systems, the chemical absorption process is actually more effective as particles become smaller.”
The PureAir beta test system installed at a major Israeli hospital is attached to an AC conduit. Photo courtesy of Leap Enterprise and Investments Ltd.
The company is now actively marketing the product and technology worldwide. In the next six months, three hospitals in the United States will be installing and evaluating the system. An independent testing laboratory will conduct testing over a three-to-five month period with the results expected to be published within a year. Additional hospitals are also being sought to participate in the program.
Meanwhile, in the next few weeks, the Israeli agriculture ministry will be conducting studies on the effectiveness of the system for controlling avian flu at poultry farms and as an alternative to chlorine dioxide treatment for food preservation.