The researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi have developed an Ultraviolet-C (UV-C) light-based portable disinfection box at a cost of Rs 35,000 to disinfect metallic, plastic and cardboard products to minimise COVID-19 risk.

It can be used to disinfect wallets, keys, spectacles, bags, courier packages and parcels, among others, to minimise the risk of COVID-19 as the virus can live on these surfaces for up to 3 days.

Dr Himanshu Pathak and Dr Sunny Zafar, Assistant Professors, School of Engineering, IIT Mandi, identified the capability of UV-C light for the disinfecting objects against contamination of the novel COVID-19 virus.

They said research has shown that UV-C light can achieve a high level of inactivation of a near-relative of COVID-19’s virus and thus reducing the risks of contagion among healthy people.

In the workplace, it can be an excellent tool for disinfecting transit of goods.

“The structure of the box is based on a UV-C opaque covered frame. It consists of a cuboid container made of a wooden board (furniture grade) with a two-layer aluminium foil coating to prevent UV-C light leakage.

Ten UV-C lamps with designated ratings are used to provide UV-C light exposure to object surfaces and these lamps are connected with automatic timer control that regulates the dose of UV-C light as per requirement for the specific object.

The developed prototype is capable of disinfecting non-living objects like courier packets, travel bags, currency, wallets, wristwatches, mobile phones, laptops, books, stationery among others,” Dr Himanshu Pathak said.

Dr Sunny Zafar said the research team used ozone-free UV-C lamps (with 254 nm wavelength) as per the ISO: 15858:2016 standard for UV-C devices -safety information with almost no exposure to human operators.

“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 per cent,” he added.

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 per cent 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 up the disinfected product.

Besides, a team of Navish Sharma, Technical Assistant along with his team members, Tilak Raj and Hans Raj, had developed a low-cost foot-operated hand sanitiser dispenser for sanitising hands without touching contaminated surfaces of the sanitiser bottle.

In this dispenser, a spring reinforced foot pedal is installed which is connected to a pipe with a holder in which the sanitiser bottle will be placed.

On pressing the foot pedal, the sanitiser holder will lift and the bottle head will be pressed by a glass cap.