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Rapid-Release Gases to Speed Up Cleaning of COVID-19 Ambulances

Ed Lester-Card, Dr Chedly Tizaoui, Anthony Lewis and Dr Karen Perkins of Swansea University College of Engineering, with the demonstration ambulance used to test out their speed-cleaning procedure. Credit: Swansea University

Swansea University has successfully won funding to reduce the time it takes to sanitize ambulances after carrying a suspected COVID-19 positive patient.

Researchers from the university are helping slash the time it takes to clean an ambulance from 45 minutes to under 20 minutes.

Led by the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) Centre of Excellence and Welsh Ambulance Service, the challenge was to reduce the current turnaround time to deep clean a vehicle and get it back on the road.

Devised and developed in under two weeks, interest in the challenge was overwhelming, with over 200 proposed solutions from across the UK.

Dr Karen Perkins of Swansea University College of Engineering demonstrating the breathing apparatus being used during tests for the ambulance cleaning procedure. Credit: Swansea University

Swansea University were among the twelve top ranked bids securing funding and support, a testament to the ingenuity and enterprise being applied to issues arising from the crisis.

Swansea University’s solution will see them test a new rapid-release gas treatment for ambulances, which could remove COVID-19 contamination from surfaces and the air, in under twenty minutes, removing human cleaning intervention.

Support for the challenge has been provided by the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) and government scientists based at Porton Down.

If trials are successful, it could also be rolled out for other blue light services, public transport and hospital wards.

“Swansea University are delighted to be working with the support of the Welsh Ambulance Service, Welsh Government and the Welsh SBRI Centre of Excellence to deliver a potential rapid solution for ambulance cleaning,” said Dr. Chedly Tizaoui of Swansea University, chemical engineer and Principal Investigator of the project. “It is a great opportunity for us to assist front line services and our Health colleagues in the fight against COVID-19.”

Anthony Lewis and Ed Lester-Card of Swansea University College of Engineering inside a demonstration ambulance, testing out a pump that would be used for cleaning. Credit: Swansea University

As the principal investigator, Dr. Tizaoui will be working on the project with colleagues Professor Dave Worsley and Professor Peter Holliman.

Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) specify a problem – but not the solution facing the public sector. It’s then up to businesses, entrepreneurs, inventors or universities to step forward with proposals, the best of which win funding to test trial.

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