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University of Houston designs air filter that can ‘catch and kill’ COVID-19

University of Houston researchers designed a “catch and kill” air filter that can trap COVID-19, killing it almost instantly, according to a release from the University of Houston.

Researchers reported that virus tests at the Galveston National Laboratory found 99.8% of the novel SARS-CoV-2 — which causes COVID-19 —was killed in a single pass through the filter, which is made from nickel foam.

The filter also killed 99.9 percent of the anthrax spores during testing, according to researchers.

Zhifeng Ren, director of the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH, collaborated with Monzer Hourani, CEO of Medistar, a Houston-based medical real estate development firm, along with other researchers to design the filter, which is described in detail in a paper published in Materials Today Physics.

“This filter could be useful in airports and in airplanes, in office buildings, schools and cruise ships to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Ren, MD Anderson Chair Professor of Physics at UH and co-corresponding author for the paper, in a release. “Its ability to help control the spread of the virus could be very useful for society.”

Medistar executives are also proposing a desk-top model, capable of purifying the air in an office worker’s immediate surroundings, Ren said.

The researchers knew that the virus can remain in the air for about three hours. With businesses reopening, there was an added urgency to control the spread of the virus in air conditioned spaces.

Medistar knew the virus can’t survive temperatures of about 158 degrees Fahrenheit, so the researchers designed a heated filter, about 200 degrees Celsius, that kills the virus almost instantly, according to the release.

Ren said a prototype satisfied the requirements for conventional heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

Researchers have called for a phased roll-out of the device.


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