OThe National Institute of Technology, Warangal recently launched the prototype model of a chemical-free sterilisation system named OzoNIT. The device is a reassembled refrigerator, fitted with an Ozone gas generator on top.
With the click of a button, the device produces 500 milligram of ozone gas, and can disinfect vegetables, fruits, packaged items, shoes, clothes, and your wallet within 25 minutes.
“Exposure of these articles under ozone gas for about 25 minutes will kill viruses, fungi and bacteria up to 99.99 per cent without the use of any sterilising chemicals. Once the articles are sanitised, the ozone is vented out automatically,” says Dr D Haranath, Associate Professor in the Physics Department, who developed the system. He also stresses that the design of the chamber is airtight, and ensures no leakage takes place while it is being operated.
Dr Haranath got the idea to develop OzoNIT, late in May, after he saw that many companies were launching disinfection devices that work on UV light.
“While UV rays are being widely used for disinfection purposes, they are not the most effective method. Additionally, these devices are expensive, and the light can only target visible surfaces. If there are any shadow areas or folds, that does not get disinfected. Ozone gas can be produced easily, and there are many artificial ways to generate it. So, I wanted to work on a low-cost device which would use ozone gas, in safe amounts, to disinfect all household items.”
With the support of NIT Warangal, and the help of Chandar Rao, a part-time PhD scholar, he developed OzoNIT within a week.
About the Device
The body of the device is a reassembled refrigerator that Haranth purchased locally from a waste collector. He cleaned it, removed all its parts, and fitted it with an ozone generator on top.
“The ozone generator works on the concept of electrical discharge. Where, a small CFL tube is supplied with high voltage, and air is made to pass through it. When it does, the oxygen is converted into ozone gas. This then passes through the entire system, and is finally let out through an outlet. The ozone which passes out is converted back to oxygen once it interacts with the surrounding air,” says Haranath.
The device works on residential electricity units, and consumes only 13 watts of power per use. It has a separate compartment at the bottom which is to disinfect footwear, and a provision to place fruits and vegetables in water during the sanitation process.
“Ozone is highly reactive with water, and keeping the vegetables and fruits in that, helps to remove chemicals, pesticides, and harmful colours, The O3 moves around the system in such a way that it starts with disinfecting the top half, then moves to the footwear, and finally through the outlet,” says Haranath.
Once the disinfection process is over, he suggests to wash the vegetables under regular water before consumption.
What is ozone gas?
Ozone gas (O3) is an unstable gas which is produced when oxygen (O2 ) molecules are dissociated by an energy source into oxygen atoms. When these atoms collide with a third oxygen molecule, it forms O3.
While this is commonly used for the disinfection of waste-water, it is also used in devices which disinfect reusable medical equipment.
“This method is not popularly used for disinfecting household items because it has not been tested with. It has to be used in the right way to get best results, and these scientists have done that. The device can be placed outside the house, so that when you come after venturing outside, you can drop all your things inside the fridge, including your shoes. This chemical-free sterilisation process is harmless and the process leaves no odour on food,” says Professor Ramana Rao, the Director of NIT Warangal.
When will it be available for purchase?
While the prototype model has been successfully launched, Dr Haranth is depending on external investors and manufacturers to purchase the technology from him to develop production models.
“If there are any manufacturers interested in developing the product, I am willing to teach them how to make the technology, and explain how it works, so that they can produce it in large quantities. The prototype version is a basic model, and further modifications and upgrades like a digital screen can be added. The device’s size can also be modified, which will also impact the time taken to disinfect the items,” he mentions.
If you wish to get in touch with Dr Haranath, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Image courtesy: Dr. D Haranath