‘Covid-killing’ light tested in office pods

Self contained office pods

Credit: Space Republic

Self-contained office pods are being contaminated with live coronavirus to determine how well ultraviolet light can kill it off.

Space Republic, a company that wants to transform underused property, is working with virologists and material specialists at Brunel University London on the project.

Is far ultraviolet light fatal?

UV light is used to sterilise operating theatres. Recent studies in the USA showed that far ultraviolet light (far-UVC) has the potential to minimise the airborne spread of human coronaviruses.

The Space Republic and Brunel team hopes to demonstrate that far-UVC could help keep indoor public spaces safe, alongside vaccinations and ‘hands, face, space’ measures.

Their tests will discover how lethal far-UVC is to the virus in enclosed spaces.

Turning office pods into laboratories

Space Republic’s Pluto pods were designed to be installed in locations such as shopping centres and high streets. They are private, tech-enabled pods where people can work for a few hours. They’re now acting as laboratories for the project, which is part-funded by Innovate UK.

Live virus is spread on the:

  • inside surfaces
  • plastics
  • fabrics of the Pluto pods.

Dr Michael Themis, Brunel University London, said:

We have highly sensitive ways to detect the virus so we know once we have destroyed it in the pod.

The pods have two different ways of killing the virus and we are detecting how well they kill the virus after decontamination.

There is huge potential for this technology to play a key part in the fight against SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens, helping to safeguard public health in a broad range of settings.

Read more about Pluto pods (Pluto website).

Increased public confidence

Luke Aviet, CEO and co-founder of Space Republic, said:

We’re thrilled to be involved in such ground-breaking research, which could see hugely positive effects on public indoor spaces, allowing them to operate safely once more.

Far-UVC has the potential to become one of the technologies we deploy as part of the Purifi decontamination system in our pods, helping to increase public confidence in workplace safety.

The team says their findings won’t just benefit the Pluto pods, pointing out that there are many indoor public spaces that could benefit from far-UVC disinfection, such as:

  • hospitals
  • schools
  • theatres
  • gyms
  • offices.

Last updated: 22 March 2021

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