GUWAHATI, April 9 - The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati has developed a low-cost ultraviolet C (UVC) LED-based disinfection system to help in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, and the institute is also looking at addressing the critical need of the fabrication material required for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Prof TG Sitharam, Director of IIT Guwahati, has formed a research team headed by Dr Senthilmurugan Subbiah of the institute�s Department of Chemical Engineering to work in collaboration with Bengaluru-based M/S Excel Tech and Guwahati-based Ultimate Aeroaqua Filter Pvt Ltd to develop the two technologies.
Speaking about the efforts being made by the research team, Dr Subbiah said, �We are focused on working closely with government agencies and industrial partners to develop smart and low-cost technologies to fight against Covid-19.�
Regarding the UVC LED system, he said it is a proven technology to sanitise non-porous surfaces infected by the micro-organism.
�In this project, the team has developed a UVC LED system capable of providing 400 Joule doses in 30 seconds so that the virus-infected surface will be sanitised. The unique design of this UVC system will ensure uniform UVC exposure in virus-infected non-porous areas. Further, to adopt this technology to porous surfaces, the team is improving the design by integrating UVC with ozone system so that surfaces with porous nature also can be sanitised,� he added.
Another critical aspect of the technology is the safe usage of UVC system while sanitising.
�The system is equipped with an object movement identification feature so that UVC exposure to human skin is avoided during the operation. The primary role of IIT Guwahati is to develop the UVC system design, prototype it (using 3D technology), and test it in its laboratory. Three of them are designed for household sanitisation and one is for sanitising bigger spaces like hospital wards, buses, metros and railway compartments, including those transformed for Covid-19 care,� said Dr Subbiah.
The UVC LED system is under design and prototype development.
�The industrial partners were able to source required raw material to produce 5,000 units of floor sanitisation UVC system. The industrial partners are in the process of getting special approval from the government agencies to start production during the lockdown period,� added the team leader.
Regarding PPE, he said that one of the critical requirements that Covid-19 PPE fabrication material should have is that, it should be waterproof ability.
�As a research institute, IIT Guwahati is providing technical support to identify the best waterproof material from the Indian market. With the identified material, the industrial partner has produced a sample PPE for further waterproof testing. Further, the IIT Guwahati team will be exploring potential technology for anti-microbial coating on PPE to reduce the viral load on PPE during exposure to Covid-19,� said Dr Subbiah.
The PPE kit includes a jumpsuit, face shield, mask, head cover, gown and shoe cover.
Excel Tech and Ultimate Aeroaqua Filter Pvt Ltd foresee need for at least 10 lakh PPE kits soon for India and both the companies are working together to meet this demand, with a separate task team assigned for the project.
The initial trial for production of 15,000 PPE kits has been completed successfully and 200 are ready for shipment to IIT Guwahati for further improvement study.
Another 2,000 PPE kits are ready for supply to hospitals in the North East. Both industry partners are working together to ramp up production by sharing IIT Guwahati�s PPE design with mass production vendors across India.