Sanitisation Technology: From The Practical To The Bizarre

From chemical coatings & UV light to ionised water robots, innovations are pouring forth during this pandemic.

3 min read
From chemical coatings to ionised water spraying robots, sanitisation innovations are pouring forth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It takes a pandemic of the scale that's unfolding now for innovations to start pouring out of the woodwork. Even existing sanitation procedures have been given a new spin since coronavirus and COVID-19 search terms are trending.

If a sanitisation technique that existed wasn't known earlier, it is now. All one has to do is claim it can kill or deactivate coronavirus or COVID-19 and the world will sit up and take notice.

Here are some sanitisation technologies that have been "repackaged" to deal with coronavirus.


UV Light

Claim: Ultraviolet light kills coronavirus

UV light, specifically of the band UV-C, is known to kill surface bacteria and viruses. There is no evidence to show that it is effective against the COVID-19 coronavirus as such, but with cell structure being similar to other common-cold & flu viruses, it could be effective.

However, UV light needs to be used consistently for a period of time – some say about 20 minutes of exposure for complete sanitation.

This UV light case claims to sanitise your phone or earphones.
This UV light case claims to sanitise your phone or earphones.
Photo: Phone Soap

Here's an interesting product we came across called the Phone Soap. It is a UV light case in which one can place the phone or earphones for it to be sanitised. Leave it for 20 minutes and it should be good to go.

The LARQ water bottle has a UV-light cap that claims to sanitise water.
The LARQ water bottle has a UV-light cap that claims to sanitise water.
Photo: Larq

Another interesting product is the self-sanitising water bottle. This product has a UV-light built into the cap of the vacuum-flask water bottle, which activates from time to time to kill any bacteria or viruses in the water.

Anti-Microbial Coatings

Claim: Anti-microbial coatings can deactivate viruses

Droom Health team applying its Germ-Shield anti-microbial coating to Gurugram police vehicles. 
Droom Health team applying its Germ-Shield anti-microbial coating to Gurugram police vehicles. 
Photo: Droom

Anti-microbial coatings have been used for years to sanitise equipment. It is a spray-on polymer coating with anti-microbial chemicals that can be effective up to three months, preventing the growth of fungus, bacteria or viruses.

Some car companies offer these coatings as value-added services to customers. Droom, for instance, is carrying out its Germ-shield protection for the Gurugram police to sanitise their fleet of vehicles against COVID-19.

However, while this technology may be effective against other microbes, it hasn't been proven against COVID-19 yet.


Ionised Water Spray

Claim: Ionised water spray can kill coronavirus

The "Airlens Minus Corona" ionised water spraying robot. 
The "Airlens Minus Corona" ionised water spraying robot. 
Photo: Airlens

Ionising water by electrolysis is another solution being proposed. Water ionisers work by electrolysing water and siphoning the water from the negative (cathode) terminal, where there would likely be an increased concentration of hydroxide ions (OH-).

This theoretically bonds with the cell wall of bacteria and viruses, deactivating them. A company called PerSapien Innovations and its brand Airlens, has rigged up a system of spraying a water mist of ionised water to disinfect large areas. Of course, it built a robot called Airlens Minus Corona for that, but it also claims to be working with the Kolkata fire department to disinfect streets.

Air ionisers also work in a similar fashion in closed spaces (see link below).

This technology has worked in smaller areas for surface disinfection but has not yet been proved to work with coronavirus.

Self-Disinfecting Surfaces

Claim: Copper and silver have antimicrobial properties

Some metals such as copper and silver are known to have antimicrobial properties. Coating surfaces with copper or silver can give them a kind of self-disinfecting property.

Copper forms reactive oxygen radicals which damage the cell walls of microbes, while silver also binds with the proteins on microbe cell walls and deactivates them. One of the reasons they say drinking water in a copper or silver tumbler is healthy? Possibly.

Still, this hasn't been proven to work against the coronavirus COVID-19 yet.

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