Uniting to Fight COVID-19 with Ultraviolet Light

How a cross-functional Koch team is helping Violet Defense engineer UV light to stretch critical medical supplies

April 8, 2020

min read

As the world continues to adapt and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, a team from Koch Industries is working around the clock with Violet Defense to rapidly develop a unique solution to destroy the deadly virus using ultraviolet (UV) light.

In partnership with Advance Concepts Studios, a Koch Industries incubator, Violet Defense is putting together a plan to deploy mobile UV decontamination units to hospitals across the country. It’s a concerted effort to combat one of the greatest challenges facing healthcare professionals working on the front lines today – access to clean protective equipment, particularly masks.

“We’re helping design these units to be more easily manufacturable, more user-friendly, and more easily scalable across the country and beyond,” said Eric Peterson, leader of growth strategies with Advance Concepts.

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The finished UV Decon units resemble large, portable shipping containers, but with very critical internals. Inside, the units will feature multiple Violet Defense-designed pulsed xenon UV lights, metal storage racks and walls lined with reflective material. These racks can then be loaded with the personal protective equipment (PPE) nurses and doctors rely on for personal safety.

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The system works relatively quickly, disinfecting equipment in less than two hours, and reducing the need to dispose of masks, gowns and eye gear that have become precious resources. For perspective, the largest model – the UV Decon Macro 40 – will be designed to disinfect up to 30,000 masks a day.

“This is going to save lives on the patient side, but it’s also going to allow healthcare workers to stay in the fight longer," added Peterson.

He continued, "To address the critical shortages in PPE right now, we have to look at more than just increasing production. We need to be able to safely re-use what we’ve already got.”

While other companies have recently proposed similar solutions using chemicals like vaporized hydrogen peroxide as a disinfectant, the units currently being developed by Violet Defense and Advance Concepts utilize ultraviolet wavelengths of light to irradiate bacteria and viruses like COVID-19.

“The real advantage of UV over many other solutions is that it kills in the air and on surfaces at the same time – photonics are not constrained to where you wipe,” said Terrance Berland, CEO of Violet Defense. “It’s also completely chemical-free, and germs have not been able to develop a resistance to it, because it kills energetically rather than biologically.”

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Every 40-foot decontamination unit will utilize 20 Violet Defense-designed UV light sources just like these to kill harmful bacteria and viruses like COVID-19.

This system is incredibly effective, and capable of killing even the most drug-resistant pathogens, with proven efficacy for a broad spectrum of bacteria and viruses including E. coli, salmonella, norovirus and other strains of coronavirus, as well as “superbugs” like MRSA.

“We use a pulsed xenon technology that sends out a high-intensity beam of UV along with visible light when it flashes,” said Berland. “It’s a full-spectrum UV, so it produces UV-C, which is germicidal, as well as UV-B and UV-A, which are antibacterial. It even produces bacteria-killing violet blue light.”

Violet Defense is actively working to engage FEMA, the Department of Defense and numerous state agencies, depending on how quickly the company can get the wheels moving on development and delivery. With the help of Koch, Berland is confident that turn time will be sooner rather than later.

“Our intent is measured in weeks, not months, to have a version of this working and deployed where it’s needed most.”

 

Suggested reading: How Koch is fighting COVID-19