Indian universities, research institutions and start-ups have come forward with innovative solutions to tackle the pandemic in many ways
The coronavirus pandemic has taken the world by surprise. The effects of the pandemic have affected us all. Many countries underwent a stringent lockdown and the economy went on a slippery slope. To bring back the economy on track, the Governments of many nations including India have decided to lift the sanctions and resume industrial and economic activities.
The opening up of economy requires caution and innovation both so the country can save the economy without worsening the virus spread. Scientists of various institutions in India have come up with several solutions that could offer us solutions to lead our day-to-day lives safely. In this article, Urban Update elaborates some of the more prominent indigenous scientific developments and innovations.
IIT- Mandi’s UV-C Disinfection Box
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology-Mandi have developed an Ultraviolet-C (UV-C) light-based portable disinfection box which disinfects metallic, plastic and cardboard products like wallets, keys, spectacles, bags, courier packages and parcels, among others, to minimise the risk of COVID-19 spread through contact. Minimising the risk is the key because this virus can live on these surfaces for up to 3 days. Dr Himanshu Pathak, Assistant Professor, School of Engineering, IIT Mandi; Dr Sunny Zafar, Assistant Professor, School of Engineering, IIT Mandi; Dr Hitesh Shrimali, Associate Professor, School of Computing & Electrical Engineering, IIT Mandi; Dr ProsenjitMondal, Associate Professor, School of Basic Sciences, IIT Mandi and Dr Amit Prasad, Assistant Professor, School of Basic Sciences, IIT Mandi, were the scientists behind the innovation.
Research has shown that UV-C light can achieve a high level of inactivation of a near relative of COVID-19’s virus, thus, reducing the risks of contagion among healthy people. In the workplace, it can be an excellent tool for disinfecting transit of goods. The device uses 10 UV light bulbs contained in a cuboid made of a wooden board with aluminium foil through which the article that is to the disinfected is passed.
Highlighting the benefits of the Disinfection Box in the COVID-19 perspective, the researchers said, “The developed prototype can disinfect all kinds of metal, plastic and cardboard-based products from the bacteria and SARS-CoV-2 virus within one-minute exposure of UV-C light, by eliminating up to 99%.”
The prototype has been tested in an in-house lab facility at IIT Mandi against the bacteria ‘Escherichia coli’ and ‘Staphylococcus aureus’. The prototype shows 99% efficacy to kill both bacteria within 40 seconds of UV-C light exposure. Furthermore, on testing the researchers found that UV-C lamps did not heat the disinfected product.
IISc’s ICU Grade Ventilators
IISc’s Project ‘PRAANA’ team completed the prototyping of an indigenously developed ICU-grade ventilator in about two months. The team took about 35 days to go from the drawing board to a proof-of-concept system, and then to build a working prototype in another two weeks. Project PRAANA was started by IISc faculty members Gaurab Banerjee, Duvvuri Subrahmanyam, TV Prabhakar and Pratikash Panda, Bangalore-based engineer Manas Pradhan, and retired IISc professor HS Jamadagni. Many volunteers helped including physicians Dr SupreetKhare, Dr Sriram Sampath, and Dr Krishna Prasad.
Prof Subrahmanyam, while talking to Urban Update, said that it was spurred by the escalating Covid-19 crisis towards the end of March 2020. “To overcome severe constraints on the international supply chains and costs, we decided to come up with an entirely new design for a ventilator which only involves components that are made (or easily available) in India, and yet meets the key functionality requirements of a full-fledged medical ventilator”, he said.
“We have subjected our design to extensive bench-top experimental testing, and after the design performance was successfully verified (proof of concept), we translated the technology into a working laboratory-grade prototype. The prototype consists of a custom-designed pneumatic system controlled by a microprocessor and uses proprietary algorithms and techniques to blend air and oxygen in the desired ratio. It also offers fine-grained control of patient-side respiratory parameters such as respiration rate, inspiration to expiration ratio, FiO2, and PEEP. It supports both invasive and non-invasive ventilation”, Prof Subrahmanyam further said.
“We are now actively exploring options to collaborate with an industry partner to further co-develop the prototype into a field-ready product, he said. The project received internal support from IISc, external funding from the office of the Principal Scientific Adviser, Government of India, and a Corporate Social Responsibility contribution from the State Bank of India Foundation,” the Professor said.
DRDO’s Disinfecting Unit
The Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), has developed a disinfection device named ‘Ultra Swachh’ which can disinfect a wide range of materials, including Personal Protective Equipment’s (PPEs), fabrics, electronic items and others.
The new device is created by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), the laboratory of DRDO based in Delhi in partnership with Gel Craft Health Care Pvt Ltd. The disinfection system uses an advance oxidative process comprising of multiple barrier disruption approaches using Ozonated Space Technology for disinfection.
The disinfection device uses Ozone sealant technology which assures trapping of ozone for the necessary disinfection cycle. The device is double layered with a catalytic converter to ensure environment-friendly exhaust.
‘Ultra Swachh’ complies with International Standards of Industrial, Occupational, Personal and Environmental Safety. The device comes in two variants namely Trinetra Technology and Ozonated Space. Trinetra technology is a combination of a radical dispenser and Ozonated space. The disinfection device is optimised with the automation process for quick disinfection cycle.
Desmania Design’s Armor
ARMOR, a Full Face Mask, the most innovative catch of the hackathon was taken up to evolve into a prized product. A simple, affordable mask that has 3 times efficacy of the normal mask as it covers the entire face and provides for increased protection from the virus.
Firstly, it covers the entire face so there is no risk of touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Secondly, it stands on the sustainability tenet of being re-usable and durable. It provides a clear vision to the wearer because of the low refractive index of acrylic. This is the most innovative mask for the common man as well as for the front line warriors like doctors, policemen and delivery boys.
“ARMOR is being tested with the doctors, workforce, delivery boys and has also been tried with the police force. They have all loved the product and are pushing for early deployment. The design evolution is continuous and so is the refinement to design. Desmania plans to ramp up the production by the end of June 2020 to meet the massive requirements from across the globe” said Anuj Prasad, Co-founder & CEO of Desmania.
The design philosophy behind this mask is a thoughtful integration of Goggles, Face Shield and N95 Mask. In a conversation with Urban Update, Saurabh Singh (Associate Director – Desmania Design, “It’s a full face mask, it covers your eyes, nose, lips, everything and it involves no electronic item to pump air, the air circulation happens automatically, the design is such that when you breathe it automatically takes air from one end and gives it to another end, so there is a fresh flow of air circulation always happening inside.” Singh said that idea for the innovation came when he travelled from Manesar to Delhi during the lockdown and saw the lack of Personal Protection the frontline workers had.
“We are channel partners for railways, police forces, doctors, we made this, we are giving them and they are taking the masks and they are trying to give to different authorities in government,” he said. The mask is in the production phase and Singh assured that it will be in the