Decontaminating the air in confined spaces – using pulsed power plasma to destroy 99.9999% of pollutants, allergens and viruses – France’s KillVID is shaping up as the next weapon in the fight against COVID-19.
KillVID breaks down airborne particles, such as the COVID-19 virus, at the molecular level. Harmless to humans and the environment, the technology does not rely on UV radiation or chemical solvents. Instead, it passes air through a grid of tiny plasma reactors. These reactors produce intense pulses of electrical current, 1000 times per second, which creates a hot, dense plasma that destroys airborne particles.
The technology removes 99.9999% of particles in the air, according to certification from France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research. This result is 30-times greater filtration than the best mechanical filtration systems used to decontaminate the air in an enclosed area.
The KillVID technology was developed by French startup Gamma Pulse, part of the X-Tech incubator for advanced companies at the Ecole Polytechnique. The first prototype, intended for hospitals, was presented at the Institut Polytechnique de Paris booth at the Viva Technology trade show in June (picture on the left).
Gamma Pulse began work on KillVID in March 2020, building on 30 years of research into the physics of plasma.
The KillVID prototype is scheduled for real-world testing in September and October this year, after which the company will begin licensing the technology to manufacturers, says Gamma Pulse founder and president Carmen Dumitrescu. The first units are expected to be commercially available in the first half of 2022.
While many decontamination systems can handle larger micron-sized particles, Dumitrescu says only KillVID can also destroy nanoparticles like the COVID-19 and flu viruses.
“Systems which can kill 99.99% of particles might sound impressive, but that’s simply not enough when one infected person can breathe out 18 million COVID-19 nanoparticles every minute. That is why you need a system like ours which destroys 99.9999% of particles, what they call LOG6, to ensure that COVID-19 nanoparticles don’t build up in an enclosed space.”
Standalone KillVID units will reduce the spread of COVID-19 in restaurants, hospitals, schools, offices, shops, factories and other public places. The units have a small 50-centimeter base, but stand two meters tall to capture COVID-19 nanoparticles floating near the ceiling. Simply opening doors and windows to improve ventilation is not enough to clear these particles from a confined space.
Having developed a standalone KillVID prototype, Gamma Pulse will begin collaborating with partners in September to examine the feasibility of integrating the technology into the HVAC air-conditioning systems of large buildings. Dumitrescu says:
“For the time being, we have focused much of our attention on restaurants, because this is one public space where people must remove their masks in order to eat. The number of people who catch COVID-19 by touching an infected surface is very small, cases are mostly due to airborne infection, so we are working hard to kill those airborne COVID-19 nanoparticles before they can cause any harm.”