Podcast: with help from NASA, Australian respiratory researchers take on COVID-19


By Sunalie Silva

26 Nov 2020

When you walk into a lift, 2% of the air you breathe is exhaled human breath. And in trains that figure is even higher, says respiratory physiologist Jay Flack, who is working on ways to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in public shared spaces.

The scientific director at St George Hospital’s department of respiratory medicine, Sydney, has teamed up with a nuclear physicist and industrial design engineer to design an automated system that can decontaminate circulating air in confined spaces.

In a competition led by space agency NASA the Australian researchers won top prize for their system that monitors the air supply for pathogens, draws contaminated air into a filter to deactivate COVID-19 virus, and then recirculates clean air. It also harnesses the power of UV-C light to automatically sterilise surfaces.

With the potential for the technology to be used in public transport, hospital wards and respiratory laboratories, the group have come together again to work on a prototype.

In this episode we talk to the team about their Australian-designed system and how it could help curb outbreaks of the highly transmissible virus that has paralysed the world.

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