Thinking inside the box: U of A researchers showcase new COVID-19 sanitization product

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Alberta researchers are rolling out a product they say can leave items sanitized of COVID-19 in just 60 seconds.

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The Alberta-made sanitization product uses Ultraviolet-C (UVC) light from hundreds of LED light bulbs to kill viruses and bacteria, including COVID-19, and will be launched in Edmonton and Calgary this spring.

The TESER Act unit is a decontamination box, which shines UVC light on items, such as electronics, for 60 seconds and has been tested at the University of Alberta’s Biosafety Level 3 Lab. John Fox, vice-president of business and operations at TESER, a Calgary-based advanced cleaning solutions company, said the device is able to achieve a 99.99 per cent sanitization rate within a minute.

“We’ve been able to test it against a variety of bacteria and viruses, and seeing a really good kill rate, especially against viruses, which is going to be the bigger concern for the next pandemic as people prepare against it,” said Phil Alle, president and CEO of TESER.

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The box was designed to be user friendly and operates with the push of just two buttons — the bottom one to open the door and the top button to begin the 60-second sanitization cycle. The lights on the box will beam red during the cycle and turn blue once it’s completed.

Phil Alle, CEO Teser Technologies, demonstrating its Covid-19 virus killer.
Phil Alle, CEO Teser Technologies, demonstrating its Covid-19 virus killer. Post Media Network

The box’s glass is 100 per cent UVC blocking, which keeps the light inside the box due to the harm it can cause to human eyes and skin, said Fox.

The TESER Act unit meets all the Health Canada regulations and Alle said with the help of a grant from the federal government, the first 10 units will be implemented this spring.

The first 10 units will be installed at locations such as Edmonton International Airport and government offices in Calgary and Edmonton.

To meet Health Canada regulations, the device had to be tested and proven to kill COVID-19 and other viruses. The work at the U of A was led by research associate Ryan Noyce and project supervisor David Evans, a professor of medical microbiology and immunity.

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“It’s intriguing technology. We were very happy that we had a chance to test it,” said Evans.

“It’s a well established technology and UV is well known as a good tool for killing all kinds of biological organisms, as we know it is in fact quite dangerous to the skin and eyes. We knew it was going to work.”

Alle said the creation of the unit began about 10 days after the pandemic was declared and aims to address concerns heard early on.

“In the very beginning (of the pandemic) people were afraid to be around people, they didn’t want to touch other objects that people have touched, so we were really focused on that because it was something that we felt we could do, said Alle.

I have added the company will focus on laboratory settings and places where the touch of the virus matters, but they are currently working on an air-sanitization unit to combat viruses passed through the air.

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