Superkiller for superbugs

Tri-Air Developments has developed a device that could win the war against MRSA and bird flu while revolutionising the way hospitals are cleaned.

The device ‘scrubs’ the air by combining the use of three existing decontamination techniques: non-thermal plasma, ultraviolet catalysis, and Open Air Factor (OAF). According to Tri-Air this combination allows the unit to overcome each of the techniques shortcomings, making it 100 times more effective than current methods of decontamination.

‘The applications for this technology are enormous,’ said Gideon Davenport, CEO of Tri-Air. ‘Especially in America and South East Asia where air quality is more of an issue. The actual application is literally where anybody exists indoors: residential homes; corporate offices; hospitals; and transportation. There is also the potential for use during pandemics. Its actual value is almost impossible to estimate.

‘As it uses existing technology it could be assembled from off the shelf components so it wont necessarily have to be priced expensively. We had an estimate that in a mass consumer market it would cost around $50-70 to make.’

An independent scientific report has found it 99.999 per cent effective at killing airbourne test bacteria of the same genus as MRSA in two minutes. It can also kill viruses such as H5N1, and all this by simulating fresh air.

The unit creates an OAF rich in hydroxyl radicals, found in natural abundance in outdoor fresh air, particularly in forested mountain areas. These destroy microbes in the air and on surfaces including flu and cold viruses and bacteria.

‘In the summer if you open the windows to your house you allow the natural hydroxyl radicals from outside in,’ added Davenport. ‘It makes the air feel cleaner because it is. That what the device does, it creates the feeling of summer.

‘At the moment we have a prototype the size of a shoebox but the technology is scaleable. It could be integrated into a ventilation system in a large office tower or, with the right expertise, could be miniturised to the size of a large mobile phone. A unit would use as much power as a normal 100w light bulb.

‘Whilst we could raise financing and take the product the whole way ourselves, it’s important to us to get the product into market quickly because of pandemics such as SARs and bird flu.

‘We started off with a huge number of companies around the world and we are now down to five. All being good we would hope to see the closing down on a number of deals in the first quarter of 2008.

‘There has been a struggle to accept that this doesn’t use a hepa filter and the device doesn’t need to suck the air in. What our unit is doing is effectively squirting the radicals so the air doesn’t need to travel through the device.’

The device could have a particular impact on the hard to reach places highlighted by Gordon Brown’s proposed annual ‘deep clean’ of hospitals. MRSA is responsible for 5,000 deaths in the UK and costs the US health services $1.85bn a year.