The coronavirus pandemic has completely changed the way we live. Now, everyone is not just extra cautious about protecting themselves from COVID-19 but also about sanitising commonly used commodities to prevent the infection. However, there are certain products which cannot be cleaned with soap water or sanitiser. And to make life easy in these difficult times, two youngsters, Prasad Sawant and Vibhav Kane, have developed two products – UVC-based disinfection oven (also named as electro spectrum oven as it uses the invisible part of spectrum) and UVC-based disinfection trolley.
Both of them are from mechanical engineering background, Kane is in the final year of MTech in Engineering Analysis and Design at SDM College of Engineering and Technology, Dharwad whereas Sawant is currently working and simultaneously preparing for Goa Public Service Commission (GPSC) and Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Exam. The duo likes to be updated on current affairs across the world and were closely examining the spread of coronavirus, and what safety measures other countries are taking to deal with the same. While doing this, Sawant observed that in Italy, Germany and USA, UVC light-based sanitisation technique was used to restrict the spread of corona.
And being an engineer, Sawant who is always curious about new technology found it interesting and shared it with his friend Kane. They then started doing research on it and thought of developing one for their personal use.
Elaborating further on why they felt the need to come up with these products, Sawant says that when people step out of their house, they normally use the same mask over and over again. The process makes one vulnerable to the virus. Plus, he says, sanitisation of many products is difficult. “You can’t just apply soap water or sanitiser to all the groceries. You can’t actually do it on mobile phones, wallets, keys, couriers, documents even if you wanted. Also, for disinfecting patient rooms and quarantine centres, the workers have to sanitise them personally and are exposed directly to this virus.”
The disinfection oven can completely disinfect items, including all kind of masks, hospital PPE, tools, groceries, etc. The disinfection trolley can disinfect patient rooms, quarantine centres, ambulances and public transports, etc. Sawant states that their system works on UVC rays of 253.7 nm wavelength. “We have used UV- C light for our different applications. This is very useful where liquid sanitisation is not possible,” says Sawant.
Of course, the duo faced their share of challenges. Research was hampered owing to limited information about coronavirus. At a later stage, they couldn’t step out for fabrication work because of the lockdown but they made efficient use of digital technology and finally made these products “We were also hosting most of our meetings on ZOOM and via conference calls to avoid physical meetings,” says Kane.
And there has been a lot of interest about their products. Kane says: “Many industries have shown interest in the UVC-based disinfection oven. I would say that all industries should use this product because any material which is coming from outside can be a virus carrier, so it is important to sanitise documents, electrical and electronic equipment, etc.”
The oven has timer system and thus automatically stops after its process is done. And it can be customised according to customer needs. “As UVC light is harmful for our skin we have installed buzzer, delay system and motion sensor as safety features to avoid human involvement during disinfection process. Also, we are working on fully automating the process which will serve its application in areas where human involvement is not possible,” says Sawant.
However, they don’t have the ovens in mass production at the moment but Kane shares that many hotels have contacted them already so they will have to deliver to them first.
Kane says that many hotels and offices are interested in their trolley product as well. “You just have to place this equipment in the room and it disinfects every part of it automatically. This equipment will make life a lot easier,” he says, urging the government authorities to implement it in quarantine centres and hospitals as this will prove to be a game changer.
As far as their experience of working on these products, it was an amazing experience for Kane to try something new and innovative on their own. “We learned a lot about how technology has evolved in the field of sanitisation in western countries and by how much we are lagging behind in terms of health and sanitation services,” he says.
Adding to Kane’s statement, Sawant says that when more than three lakh people are already affected by this virus, only frontline health workers and government officials will not be enough in making India great again. “Each one of us has to work on all grounds and we have already taken a step towards serving our India and I am feeling proud about it,” he says.