Most personal protection equipment, e.g. medical gowns and masks, are designed to be disposable, often because the cost to dispose is less than the cost to clean. However, during a pandemic, this disposable system fails to deliver a workable solution without a proper system in place. Many public hospitals are not able to perform scheduled surgeries, too much contaminated waste results from disposable PPE and there are simply not enough PPE stocks/supply to adequately protect our medical workers.
Now new Aquila technology combines the effectiveness of UV with the cleaning power of plasma to disinfect masks and gowns in a matter of minutes without the need to send them off site. PPE equipment can be disinfected more regularly than with central disinfecting systems and so helps to prevent cross-contamination. The Aquila disinfecting system is highly cost effective, easy to operate, requires little maintenance and does not require further logistic overheads of storing and transporting re-used PPE equipment.
The system is uniquely friendly to the environment with no chemicals being used – it has no extra costs and is very low maintenance.
The Aquila system protects medical workers by disinfecting his/her mask every time they take a break without degradation to the mask material - so the masks can be disinfected in less than a minute. This means that medical workers can effectively “refresh” their masks between shifts giving them greater comfort and protection. This unique solution allows medical workers to safely extend the use of their PPE rather than a collecting disposed PPE to be centrally disinfected.
Re-use of PPE equipment has not been done before due the nature of the products, which are generally meant to be disposable. However, the COVID 19 pandemic has shown us that this type of use for PPE equipment is not appropriate or effective in a global shortage situation when PPE is needed most.
Effectiveness and speed of the disinfecting machines
Other projects to disinfect PPE equipment have been found to take a long time while chemicals are likely to be used as the key cleaning agent. The Aquila disinfectant system has been designed to do the same job in minutes for medical gowns and under a minute for masks by using monochromatic UV light as UVGI (Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation) which has been proven to effectively kill bacteria and viruses. Research have shown even resistant bacteria e.g. MRSA and influenzas and TB viruses can be effectively eliminated using this light. In terms of safety, this frequency of light wave has also been proven to be harmless to humans since it cannot penetrate the eye or skin - so is safe to use in a relatively open environment.
This high intensity UVGI is monochromatic 222 nm UV light is proven to kill viruses and bacteria without harming humans and can therefore be used in areas where medical workers remove their PPE equipment while they are taking a break.
Aquila are presently developing a working prototype for disinfecting masks, with a larger machine to follow - aimed at processing of gowns, incorporating a unique design of disinfectant chamber to ensure thorough cleaning and supported with software to personally identify each individual mask and gown. It is clearly important to ensure that each person gets their own items back - so no one has to wear someone’s else’s mask or gown.
In order to ensure every part of a gown is disinfected Aquila use ionised air vortex technology which inflates the gown so that every surface is exposed to the UV disinfecting light. Areas which are generally not exposed e.g. folds of a gown etc, receive both high intensity UVGI and plasma exposure to ensure a complete disinfection in a minute, rather than hours as required with conventional central disinfecting approaches.
The System – protect the medical workers; protect the hospitals
There are plenty of these conventional centralised sterilizing chambers available, especially in countries like South Korea and China, however no coherent system has yet been developed to re-use PPE equipment as these countries faced the COVID 19 pandemic earlier than the UK and they generally produce the fabrics and materials in large quantities for the rest of the world – they themselves thus never faced the PPE shortage as acutely as in the UK.
The Aquila system allows a medical worker to significantly extend the use of their PPE without compromises but rather with better protection and convenience. By accomplishing this, the large quantities of waste and the strain on logistics for PPE is immediately relieved.
With the Aquila system, hospitals are more prepared to face this, or any new pandemic by enabling total segregation of areas for the pandemic patients, it also allows a hospital to function with more “normalcy”. The system also allows specialist doctors to enter and leave the pandemic wing of the hospital to treat pandemic patients with pre-existing conditions providing greater safety to the doctor and eliminating/reducing cross contamination to other parts of the hospital – although of course while the system disinfects the PPE, it cannot limit the spread of a biological contaminant carried in other forms or other mediums.
Why are Aquila machines so special?
Medical workers deserve to be thoroughly and conveniently protected so the mask disinfection system is of paramount importance – considering that a face mask is the primary personal protection against the virus getting into the lungs. This new UVGI plasma system protects the medical worker by disinfecting his/her mask every time they take a break without degradation to the mask material. The masks are disinfected in less than a minute so that the medical worker can effectively “refresh” their masks giving them greater comfort and protection, with PPE equipment disinfected more regularly than central disinfecting systems and thus helps to prevent cross-contamination.
The challenge with disinfecting medical gowns is to ensure every part of the gown is disinfected so UVGI is made more effective by a plasma vortex directed to areas which are proven to be difficult for the UV light beams to reach alone.
The ionised air vortex technology inflates each gown so that every surface is exposed to the UV disinfecting light. Areas which are generally not exposed e.g. folds of a gown etc., will receive both high intensity UCGI and plasma ensuring a complete disinfection in a very short time.