Institution of Mechanical Engineers – Hospitals to use UV air scrubbers to fight COVID-19 after IMechE developed standard for the NHS


January 07, 2022

An inexpensive and effective solution to removing COVID-19 from the air using UV disinfectants will soon be used in hospitals after a team led by engineers from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers developed a standard for regulate them for use in the National Health Service.

(Credit: IMechE)

A trial at a Cambridge hospital showed that when ultraviolet disinfectants were installed in two wards, they deactivated the COVID-19 virus in the air. Before and after tests showed the virus to be active.

It could also be applied in schools, significantly reducing the risk of transmission of infections in schools and avoiding costly heating bills by removing the requirement to open windows.

The standard was developed by a group of specialist engineers led by Chief NHS Engineer Mike Ralph, who is also a member of the institution and included members of the Pandemic Infection Control Solutions team from the ‘institution.

Frank Mills FIMEchE, founding member of the Pandemic Infections Control Solutions group, said: “The development of this standard will have a huge impact as there is a major desire to improve air quality in healthcare facilities to combat COVID-19. Engineers have been at the forefront of making sure the NHS has the advice it needs to make sure the disinfectants it purchases are fit for purpose and effective in tackling the virus. “

Dr Alice Bunn, Executive Director of the Institution, said: “Our mission is to improve the world through engineering, and this is a fantastic example of how engineering skills can make a difference in the world. all of our lives. Ensuring that the air indoors is as free of pathogens as possible will be a big step forward in reducing the transmission of COVID-19 in hospitals, as well as in places like schools, colleges and other public buildings. “

UV cleaners are a cheaper and more flexible solution than HEPA filters traditionally used in healthcare. UV cleaners can be installed as ‘mobile’ units easily and quickly and plugged into a nearby outlet.

Another advantage of UV is that the HEPA system has filters that must be changed regularly and removed by a person who is protected in PPE.

The standard was approved on December 20 and will be published by the NHS as a standard to be used by all NHS Trusts when purchasing UV air purifiers. The standard also provides guidance on their use to reduce infections with COVID-19 as well as all other airborne pathogens.

For schools, effective ventilation is essential for teaching and learning in a productive environment. School members participate in a trial at St. Teresa School in Morden, Surrey, where they have installed a UV unit in each classroom.

The school project is supported by an award sponsored by the UKRI (Innovate UK) to investigate the use of air purifiers to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 in offices, healthcare and schools .

Professor Fred Mendonca, ESI Group, UKRI ventESI Project Principal Investigator, said: “We can positively reflect the growing resilience of UK manufacturing and healthcare and education professionals. A growing awareness of airflow and the circulation of clean air strengthens intuition, creates good practices and informs decision-making.

Justin Dachtler, Principal of St. Teresa Elementary School, Merton, said: “Ventilating classrooms for clean air remains a priority for us to ensure good attention span, health and wellbeing. -being of our students and our staff. The lingo and science behind it can be confusing at first, but very quickly well-chosen images and plain language make the benefits tangible not only for education professionals but also for our children and parents. Collaborative work and shared learning go far beyond the obvious benefits of clean air.

For more information on the Cambridge Hospital trial, here’s a link to the journal article.

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