PWI has developed a device, Biotek Shield, for installation in commercial aircraft air-conditioning systems. It is designed to use UVC (ultraviolet) light technology to neutralise pathogens like bacteria and viruses – including H1N1, SARS, West Nile, Tuberculosis and coronavirus.
“To get the world back to some sort of normalcy, the public needs to be safe travelling,” said Robi Lorik, president and CEO of PWI. “We can now help stop the airborne spread of pathogens inside aircraft. Since viruses are not alive, nothing will ‘kill’ a virus. But a virus can be rendered incapable of reproducing or infecting a host.”
PWI has contracted with a certified lab to test the effectiveness of Biotek Shield. “There are only a handful of Biological Safety – Level 3 (BSL 3) labs that are authorised to test on live viruses like COVID-19,” said Lorik. “These viruses can be very dangerous, so locating a lab certified to test with COVID-19 was a challenge in itself.”
PWI says that once testing is complete, the lab is expected to certify that the UVC light used in Biotek Shield will neutralise 99.9999% of virus cells, rendering the virus unable to replicate itself or infect humans. The EPA uses a logarithmic scale to measure UVC light’s effectiveness in neutralising pathogens like the coronavirus. The lowest on the scale is a Log 1, neutralising 90% of live bacteria, but will not handle viruses as small as the coronavirus. The highest level is Log 6, whereby 99.9999% of pathogens are neutralised, including the coronavirus. PWI says the UVC used in Biotek Shield will be Log 6 level.
“Only a Log 6 system will neutralise the pathogens, and that’s what we’re developing in our device,” said Lorik. “There are other systems available, but they do not have the efficacy that ours will. Other systems use topical wands or foggers that are far less effective and are one-time-only use, without continual sanitisation. Not only is our system the strongest at Log 6 level, but it also continuously cleans the cabin air, whether the plane is on the ground or in the air.”
The device will first be designed to fit the air-conditioning system of the Boeing 737, with other commercial aircraft to follow. PWI is aiming for FAA STC/PMA approval. The Biotek Shield would be installed in the air-conditioning duct work, and is designed to operate silently and invisibly throughout the flight. On the ground, the device will draw power from the aircraft’s auxiliary power unit, and in flight the device will be powered by the aircraft’s engines. PWI further reports that Biotek Shield will create no waste and require maintenance every 3-5 years.
“PWI has been designing and producing LED lighting for aircraft since 2012,” said Lorik. “It is an obvious step to take LED light from simply illuminating the cabin to cleaning the air. We have the knowledge and the experience with the FAA. We’re now ready to take it to the next level to address this worldwide problem with our lighting solution.”
The Biotek Shield UVC treatment system will be developed by Aero Biotek, a sister company to PWI. Biotek Shield is the first in a planned line of products aimed at addressing the problem of airborne pathogens inside aircraft.