What do you do with the essentials you buy from markets these days? Disinfect them? Sanitise them? Because who knows what else is coming in the house from outside along with the groceries and food packets.
The same thought took root in Pankaj Sharma’s head, especially due to the fact that his wife and son have asthma. The Co-Founder of Bengaluru-based nanotechnology startup – Log 9 Materials, soon began regularly washing all store bought groceries and food packets with dettol and soap water.
He was scared about the germs, including any potential bacteria or virus, affecting all of them.
Meanwhile, Sharma and his fellow co-founder Akshay Singhal, were regularly reading media reports of hospitals suffering from shortages of face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE). One particular report which spoke of doctors being asked to wear their masks for one month at a stretch because of shortages, caught their eye.
“Addressing the concerns of our households, and reducing the stress on the supply of PPEs and masks in hospitals, we developed the CoronaOven, a lightweight, portable disinfection chamber (of 20 litres volume) specifically designed to kill various types of Coronaviruses, including the novel COVID-19, using UV-C light (having wavelength of 253.7 nm) in combination with significant design parameters. This device can disinfect surfaces of various surfaces from germs,” says Singhal, speaking to The Better India (TBI).
How It Works
Developed in less than two weeks, this is a proprietary device conceptualised and designed by Log 9, based upon the existing scientific principle of UltraViolet germicidal irradiation (a disinfection method applying short-wavelength UVC rays).
The standout feature of this device is its ability to kill virus/pathogens within approximately 10 minutes from all types of surfaces after the object is placed inside the chamber for disinfection.
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It can sterilise protective medical gear like N95 masks, eye goggles and face shields, amongst others. The device also enables reuse of these masks and helps front-line workers like doctors and nurses to remain infection-free, even when there is a shortage/unavailability of masks and PPEs. At homes, the CoronaOven can help decontaminate grocery items, food items (including fruits and vegetables), water bottles and utensils.
The startup has applied for a patent on this device, but is still awaiting approval.
“The CoronaOven has been specifically designed by us keeping in mind the cell structure and characteristics of ‘the Corona family of viruses’. We were able to create this product and conduct simulations for the same within a very short time frame based on our existing knowledge of nanoscience as well as competence in terms of rapid prototyping and scientific product development,” informs Singhal.
“Not only does the CoronaOven provide accurate and necessary energy via multifocal UVC radiation on each point on the surface of an object to be disinfected/sterilised, but also guarantees 100 per cent destruction of the Coronaviruses and other harmful microorganisms. It is a scalable and cost-effective solution built with easily available materials, and is as simple to use as a normal microwave. The product is now ready for mass deployment and we are going to manufacture the first batch of CoronaOven in the next 7-10 days,” he adds.
In the midst of this epidemic, it has become imperative to identify technological solutions to contain or at least mitigate the chances of serious outbreaks of this infectious disease.
“According to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the SARs-COV 2 virus can remain active and infectious on plastic and stainless steel surfaces for a period of up to 2-3 days, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and around 4 hours on copper-based surfaces. Treatment/sterilisation cycles using UV-C light can prove to be extremely advantageous for reducing the spread of the virus in Stage 3 and Stage 4 situations of Covid-19, especially when demand for PPEs overrides supply and frequent surface-to-human transmission becomes a reason of serious concern. As India is currently knocking the doors of Stage 3 (community transmission) of the disease … it can go a long way in preventing and limiting the transmission of the deadly contagion,” says the startup’s press release.
Scope of the Device
The CoronaOven, a zero-chemical device, has multiple applications across healthcare facilities, household settings and even for disinfecting delivery parcels on-the-go.
Various other home appliances and accessories having solid surfaces of plastic, metal, leather, fabric can also be disinfected using the product.
The list of products the CoronaOven can disinfect also includes currency notes and paper documents as well. “But you cannot place a large deck of sheets or currency notes in the oven. You have to space them out. We can disinfect 40-50 currency notes in one go. If we want to sanitise full A4 size sheets, we can disinfect 10-15 of them in one go,” adds Singhal.
Pankaj Sharma, meanwhile, explains the science behind the product and its effectiveness.
“Once a specific intensity of UVC light is exposed to Covid-19 virus, it penetrates the virus shell, reaches its RNA strand, and thereafter makes a permanent alteration in its RNA structure, which renders the virus incapable of infecting or replicating inside any live cell. Our latest product CoronaOven has been designed based on previous scientific studies concluding how UVC light kills SARS COV-1 virus. Since SARS-CoV1 detected in year 2002 is the most closely related coronavirus when compared to COVID -19 causing SARS-CoV2 which shares around 70-80 per cent of its genome with the former, it can be merited that UV-C is able to successfully inactivate/neutralise the effects of the Novel Coronavirus,” he says.
Based on these assessments, the startup came up with a new product made with UVC-safe materials, which not only ensures safe operations of the equipment inside the oven, but also ensures UV ray blockage so that outside personnel/users aren’t adversely affected. Manufacturing of the CoronaOven has also already started.
“We are working with contract manufacturers who possess expertise in making similar products in and around Bengaluru. If demand increases, we will expand the scope of our operations and tie up with other contract manufacturers in Mumbai, Delhi and other cities. We have already taken pre orders from hospitals as well as B2C customers. Shipping will start in the coming week. We are starting with manufacturing 300 units a day, which we plan to expand to 2,000 units per day in the next 10 days,” informs Singhal.
CoronaOven And Variants
The startup has two variants of this product. One is a plug-in variant, which you can plug into a normal power socket where you charge your laptop and mobile phones. Another is the battery-based variant for mobile users like ambulances, grocery delivery trucks, etc. The plug-in variant will go for Rs 7,999, while the battery variant will go Rs 9,999. It has also been listed on Government of India’s e-marketplace portal.
“Due to the lockdown, the added cost of transportation and the lack of raw material availability incurs higher production cost. For government facilities, we are offering a 10 per cent discount on the device and we are looking to tie up with CSR funds and other brands available in the market so that we can subsidize the costs further,” he adds.
For most firms engaged in the manufacturing of critical equipment during the lockdown, there are definite logistical challenges. In terms of transport trucks are available, permissions are available, but drivers are not willing to take risks. They fear catching the virus on the way, and as a result of the lockdown, nothing is open enroute.
Since governments are strictly enforcing the lockdown in most parts, people are scared to open up their shops and warehouses. There have been incidents where they have been beaten up for opening shops. Thus, many vendors are asking for significant advances. Only if they have money in back, obtain permissions and after much persuasion, do they open up their warehouses to deliver components.
Nonetheless, the startup is working round the clock towards overcoming these challenges and this critical device is delivered. Beyond the epidemic, however, there is no question that the demand for these devices will also significantly increase.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)