High-tech COVID-killing air filter helps Del. offices safely reopen
WILMINGTON – As the first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccines were being distributed across the country earlier this month, work began in Delaware to retrofit the first office building in the U.S. with what is being called the world’s most-advanced air filtration system, one which kills the coronavirus and other airborne pathogens, even anthrax.
Developed and produced by Integrated Viral Protection (IVP) of Houston, the Biodefense Indoor Air Protection System, which claims to kill more than 99.9% of both the COVID-19 virus and anthrax spores, has been installed at the Farmers Insurance Building off Beaver Valley Road in north Wilmington to protect employees from the virus being circulated through the building’s heating and cooling system.
“The filter is heated to 115 degrees Celsius and will kill the virus in 0.5 seconds,” said Garrett Peel, executive principal for IVP.
It does this quietly and instantaneously in a single pass, IVP claims, without affecting ambient air.
“We are helping to launch the ‘Re-Opening of America” campaign,” Peel said at a virtual press conference celebrating the beginning of the Farmers installation.
Competitive filtration systems only trap the virus, Peel said, while the IVP product both traps and kills it simultaneously.
Currently in production and being rolled out on a worldwide basis, primarily to health care facilities, the IVP Biodefense filtration system is being manufactured in various sized units so that it can both be fitted into building systems, such as is being done at the Farmers facility, or in room-sized units, which have been installed in some Texas schools. A mobile unit is expected to be introduced soon.
The filtration system was invented by Monzer Hourani, a scientist and entrepreneur, who also founded IVP. In turn, IVP is owned by Hourani’s Medistar medical real estate development firm, which also owns Farmers Insurance’s Delaware offices. Institutions that have worked to develop or test the system include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Argonne National Laboratory and the Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston.
“IVP has the capacity to produce 40,000 units a month,” says Kenneth E. Thorpe, chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and an IVP consultant.
The freestanding units, which have been approved for use by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, resemble very tall, upright water heaters.
“They are ideal for use in restaurants and other small businesses,” Thorpe said, noting that some are already in use for those purposes. “Most restaurants would need only one and it would pay for itself in a few weeks.”
Even though the system kills the virus through high heat, Thorpe said that you can stand next to one and not feel anything. The system “turns on, then back off, not running continuously, so it doesn’t heat the air in the room,” he explained. The room-size units circulate up to 1,800 cubic feet per minute using a carbon pre-filter.
“This could be very important to businesses in Delaware,” said Thorpe, who noted he has an old childhood friend in the state. “The Delaware gross state product is down year-to-year by 22%, with a $4 billion reduction in revenues. My goal is to work with the Delaware business community to help turn things around.”
By Roger Morris