Inactivation of COVID‑19 virus and other air-borne microbial contaminants from aircraft cabins and other modes of transportation with ultraviolet radiation
The commercial airline industry is struggling to come up with solutions to the current challenges presented by the COVID‑19 pandemic. There have been some discussions of applying social distancing measures, including the use of shielding, as a means of keeping people physically apart on planes. It goes without saying that social distancing is not a commercially viable solution, as the airlines would need a method of recovering their losses, given that their load capacity would be drastically reduced as a result of social distancing. In addition to all the steps that are being taken today (i.e., gloves, masks, temperature screening) to decrease the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, air disinfection is a key for closed rooms, e.g. aircraft’s cabin. In this research, we are applying ultraviolet (UV) light to inactivate airborne viruses, bacteria and other floating microorganisms. The application of UV radiation to the aircraft air circulation systems will sterilize the portion of air which is recirculated through the cabin. Our research includes studying the effectiveness of different UV sources, the role of environmental parameters, and the intensity of UV on the inactivation of a target airborne microorganism. The cost and energy analysis will be considered for designing the system for aircraft recirculated air disinfection. Finally, a bench-scale prototype will be tested with a target airborne virus or bacteria. The societal impact of this strategy would be significant, as it allows the airline industry in Canada and globally to restore customer confidence in the airlines’ ability to keep planes free of pathogens and in doing so, restore those parts of the economy, such as tourism, affected by this pandemic.