Scientists Use Plasma Filter to Inactivate SARS-CoV-2

Real-time coronavirus inactivation through joint research between KIMS and Masan National Tuberculosis Hospital (PFU decreasing tendency by accumulated time after passing through plasma filter). Courtesy of Korea Institute of Materials Science (KIMS)

A research team led by Dr. Seunghun Lee of the Department of Nano-Bio Convergence at the Korea Institute of Materials Science (KIMS) has succeeded in developing a plasma air conditioning technology that can inactivate the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) aerosol in real-time. The technology verified the real-time virus inactivation in an aerosol which is main infection vector of the COVID-19.

The plasma filter developed by the research team uses dielectric filter discharge technology to inactivate the coronavirus aerosol with reactive oxygen species. The research team confirmed that the coronavirus was inactivated by about 99.8% or more immediately after passing through the plasma filter. The plasma filter uses catalyst materials for ozone removal and are able to be applied to air purifiers and air conditioning equipment. In addition, the research team installed a catalyst at the rear end of the plasma filter to maintain the concentration of emitted ozone below 0.05 ppm. The catalyst solved the ozone emission problem, a weakness of plasma technology, and satisfied various standards related to ozone emission.

Until now, the coronavirus inactivation experiment has been conducted in a liquid form in a petri dish, not in the form of an aerosol. Due to the dangers of high-risk viral aerosol experiments, it is extremely rare to directly verify the inactivation of aerosol of coronavirus.

Collaborated with Masan National Tuberculosis Hospital, the research team developed an experimental device that can directly evaluate the virus inactivation performance by spraying the aerosol of the coronavirus culture medium. The research on the evaluation of plasma filter performance is submitted to international journals. If the technology is applied to air purifiers and air conditioning equipment of medical facilities and multi-use facilities, it is expected to suppress the spread of infectious diseases.

Lee, the lead researcher and a senior researcher at KIMS, said, “Developing various disinfection materials and parts is important, but there are insufficient empirical studies using aerosols of a highly pathogenic virus. By utilizing the inactivation data of the coronavirus aerosol obtained in this study and predicting the performance of bio-aerosol removal in a virtual space using digital twin, we plan to conduct follow-up studies to calculate the processing time and optimal arrangement required for disinfection of multi-use facilities.”

This research was funded by the Ministry of Science and supported by the Fundamental Research Program of KIMS. The research team completed two technology transfers regarding plasma air purifiers and air conditioning parts last year. In particular, a film-type plasma filter-applied air purifier is planned to be released in February after completing the group standard certification and coronavirus inactivation test. The product was exhibited at the Korea Science and Technology Fair 2021 held at KINTEX last December.

Source: Korea Institute of Materials Science (KIMS)