From ultraviolet lights that kill pathogens to thermal imaging security cameras that detect temperatures, companies across New Hampshire are expanding and adapting their product lines to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Far-UV Sterilray, a Somersworth company, sells patented UV products they say are more effective in killing bacteria and viruses than UV lamps already on the market or chemical and steam cleaners. Products include disinfection wands, air duct systems and wall units.
Soon, they will produce autonomous disinfection robots that could roam the aisles of grocery stores or airplanes disinfecting surfaces when no one is around. The technology is said to kill all pathogens in five seconds or less — on surfaces and in the air or water.
The coronavirus pandemic has many companies scrambling to fill orders for up-and-coming products that will stop the further spread of the coronavirus — and other superbugs and viral infections in the future. Far-UV Sterilray’s sales are four times higher than this time last year.
Demand heats up
In Manchester, Electronic Security Protection, Inc. is taking orders for Dahua thermal security cameras, which automatically check human temperature.
The security technology is new in the United States, said owner Geoffrey Davis. Scanning passengers at airports, businesses or other crowded places can be timely.
Cameras are placed at entryways, where they can detect multiple people’s temperatures.
“It will show everybody’s temperature as they come through,” Davis said. “It will see through face masks, it will see through helmets, it will see through face shields.”
The camera also uses facial recognition, so a cup of hot coffee wouldn’t trigger an alarm.
Davis is in the process of marketing the product, working with clients who would find it useful, such as clinics and businesses. Many places now are screening people before they walk in.
“It could be a hospital, it could be a school, it could be a business that has a lot of employees filing in every morning,” Davis said. “I am talking to a couple county sheriff’s departments.”
The cameras cost about $20,000.
But, Davis said, “The return on investment in the right location is almost immediate.”
The camera could potentially help keep places open and prevent costly closings for cleaning.
“This is going to be an ongoing thing,” Davis said.
An energized approach
John Neister, president of Far-UV Sterilray, said the company uses a technology they call Excimer Wave Sterilray in its UV lamps. The technology “has much more photon energy than mercury-based 254nm UVC bulbs” on the market now, according to its website.
The company’s GermBuster-Air HVAC lamps have been installed at Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass., and Concord Hospital, according to the company. Many of the products are now on back order from six to eight weeks as production continues to ramp up.
Neister called the product a game-changer for disinfection.
“We have now been inundated with phone calls,” he said. “People from all around the world are realizing that 222 nanometers has a higher photon energy than 254 nanometers and we actually break the chemical bond of all pathogens.”
Interested customers include airlines, transit companies and HVAC companies. The product also can be installed in ventilation systems.
“If we can get FDA approval, then these lamps can be put into airports, they can be put into subways, they can be put into cars, especially the autonomous taxis,” Neister said.
The technology is patented by Neister’s brother, Edward, who started testing such UV wavelengths in 2004.
Safety made safe
Research by David Brenner at Columbia University shows 222 nm light is safe for the skin.
“I envision a wide range of applications for this new weapon in the war against superbugs, such as in schools to prevent the spread of coronavirus or influenza, in shelters to prevent the spread of TB, or in airplanes and airports to prevent the global spreading of virus like coronavirus or H1N1 influenza,” Brenner wrote on his website.
The lamps are manufactured in a 10,000-square-foot space in Somersworth with 12 employees and a production partner with about 30 more.
Far-UV Sterilray is already thinking about expanding and hiring up to 50 employees by year’s end. With a new facility, the company expects it could eventually have up to 500 employees in the Granite State.
They are hoping to wrap up additional funding soon and perhaps secure government assistance.
The patent likely will be licensed to other companies.
“Within a year or so we could get a couple hundred thousand lamps made, and that is still not going to be enough, but it’s a good start,” Neister said.