Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati have developed a low-cost sterilization box to disinfect small household items by combined heat and UV radiation to prevent COVID-19.
The results of their investigation have also been recently published in Environmental Research (2021).
According to the team, the products available in the market use only UV-C irradiation facilities to disinfect items at a cost between Rs 13,000 and Rs 15,000, while the developed device has both heat and UV-C irradiation facilities to disinfect items and costs around Rs 3,500.
The developed device works using the combined effect of dry heat and UV-C irradiation. UV-C radiation is more effective in killing the pathogens at the surfaces and heat is effective in sterilizing the unexposed areas and pores.
"The combination of UV-C radiation and heat can be used for disinfecting small items like masks, wallets, currency notes, wristwatches, and other routine items for their safe reuse or disposal to the environment," said Lalit M Pandey, Professot at IIT's Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering.
"This published study suggests that the combination of heat and UV-C at 70 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes can be useful for the inactivation of the virus through the unfolding of proteins and killing of bacterial pathogens," he added.
The designed sterilization box comprises a wooden box, two incandescent bulbs for heating, two UV-C lamps for irradiation, one Digital Temperature Controller (DTC), and a timer.
The box also has the provision to maintain different inside temperatures through DTC. For operational safety, a limit switch-controlled top cover is used to prevent the direct exposure of UV-C light to the human eye and skin.
"The box was tested for the sterilization or disinfection of virus and bacteria. The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is composed of inner nucleic acid, which is covered with surface spike glycoprotein. The unfolding and disintegration of surface glycoprotein inactivate the virus. The developed device was found to unfold the glycoprotein and completely kill bacteria present on surfaces, even in an aqueous environment.
"Further, to access the practical applicability, the designed sterilization box was also tested for daily use items and found to effectively sterilize or disinfect the surfaces. This broadens the effectiveness of the developed prototype," said Uday Shanker Dixit, Professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
The other members of the team included research scholars Nilkamal Mahanta, Varun Saxena and Priyanka Batra.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)