NEWS RELEASE July 2020
A Proactive Filtration Industry can Vanquish COVID and Boost Revenues by Hundreds of Billions of Dollars
Even though COVID travels as small aerosols it is not invincible. It is just a matter of choosing the right weapons. The filtration industry has developed and is improving these weapons. If the filtration industry is proactive these weapons will be available in the quantity and time frame needed. The evidence continues to mount that asymptomatic individuals transmit the virus just by talking or breathing. What is needed is to treat the COVID space as one big cleanroom or one big air pollution stack. Semiconductor cleanrooms and waste to energy plants remove 99.99 % of particles in the virus size range.
If every transmitter and every recipient wore a mask as efficient as a cleanroom or air pollution filter there would not be a problem. Back in the 1960s the major air pollution source was foundry cupolas. There were no national regulations. In fact there was no EPA. But States passed regulations to prevent the emission of the large particles that fell on nearby cars and destroyed the paint. So an inefficient device called a multi tube cyclone was mandated. It worked well. The big particles were captured and the small particles were invisible and blown down wind into the next State.
A cloth face mask is the equivalent of the multi tube cyclone. It is efficient on 100 micron particles but captures little below 10 microns. Today every foundry cupola has efficient filters with nonwovens or membranes with efficiencies exceeding an N95 mask. By wearing no masks or inefficient masks we are blowing the virus downwind.
Another challenge in operating a foundry cupola is fumes which may escape through the charging door. This is solved by good engineering which assures a flow of inward air at a velocity sufficient to overcome turbulence within the cupola. Air velocity and direction are also important in the transmission of COVID.
We used foundry cupolas as an example. But the challenges in a semiconductor or pharmaceutical cleanroom are much greater and have been met with very robust technology solutions. Now is the time for the filtration industry to use its capability and take a proactive stance to solve the COVID problem.
The rewards will be immense. The difference between a reactive and proactive program is hundreds of billions of dollars of revenue in 2021. With a proactive program the air filter and room air purifier sales will increase by $60 billion per year. Mask and respirator sales will increase by over $155 billion per year. Disinfection, wipes, monitoring, and anti-microbial coating revenues will increase by over $60 billion per year.
In the reactive program the decisions are made by governments and researchers. In a proactive program the filtration industry becomes a full partner and leader. The position by governments that efficient masks were not needed by the public represents a failure by the filtration industry to communicate the basic knowledge which it has.
This basic knowledge has led from the simplistic concept of one large semiconductor or pharmaceutical cleanroom with all the air of the same purity to a concept of many progressively cleaner rooms within the main room.
The new classifications are more complex and deal with particles of various sizes. The older classification suffices as an illustration. It is based on particles 0.5 micron and larger. Relatively clean ambient air is rated at class 500,000 or 500,000 particles in each cubic foot of air. When a few HEPA filters are added you can achieve class 100,000. Many semiconductor operators opt for lots of class 10,000 space with class 1 space for the most critical operations. Pharmaceutical manufacturers opt for class 10,000 general space with class 100 space for vial filling operations. Isolators with class 1 rating are used for the most critical operations. The COVID battle plan can use the same concept.
The world is one big cleanroom in a pyramid of smaller spaces. Each local space has its own more restrictive efficiency criteria and then the individual represents the smallest cleanroom within the pyramid.
Class 500,000: Let’s start with the class 500,000 cleanroom or ambient air. The problem is that the ambient air at traffic intersections in the cleanest cities and the air throughout many cities and even the rural areas in many countries contains many millions of 0.5 micron particles per cubic foot. This is why Germany is supplying ambient air filtration systems at some traffic intersections. This is why in India, China, and many other countries efficient masks are worn by many citizens.
Small air pollution particles are not stopped by cloth masks. So there is already a large market for efficient masks in many countries. The masks which stop small dust particles will also capture the small virus particles. In fact research in the Lombardy region in Italy as well as other studies show that the virus can be attached to air pollution particles.
The need to protect against the air pollutants will be there long after a vaccine to prevent COVID is made available and will be there until the next virus comes along. This means that the filtration industry has the promise of a large and continuing revenue stream in the Class 500,000 space.
The individual is the ultimate cleanroom within a cleanroom. He can change the cleanroom class in the air around him with a mask. When he is far from others, he may be safe with no mask and willing to breathe in the 500,000 particles with every cubic foot inhaled.
Class 100,000: Many industries making small parts operate in class 100,000 cleanrooms. Food processing plants strive to keep general space at this cleanliness level. Pork processing plants have found that the shelf life of their product is increased by more than one week if they have cleaner air in the production facilities. The combination of improved HVAC and filtration combined with the use of efficient masks would eliminate much of the virus transmission presently occurring in these facilities. Partitions without air control can make matters worse not better.
The general space in hospitals should be at least class 100,000. Hospital acquired infections result in millions of deaths per year. Visitors account for some of this transmission. PathO3Gen Solutions found that their foot sanitizer used by all those entering a hospital makes a big difference.
Train stations, airline terminals, nursing homes, apartment complexes, office buildings and other areas of congregation should be kept in this class range. The air in many office buildings contains VOCs generated from plastic furniture, floor coverings etc. Efficient masks are needed in these areas but in addition relatively pure air should be provided.
An N30 mask will insure maintenance of a class 100,000 atmosphere but in situations where people congregate the individual should convert his inhaled air to class 100 with an N95 mask.
Class 10,000: There have been initiatives to eliminate pharmaceutical and semiconductor class 10,000 space. Since people generate the contamination, the concept was to use isolators and robotics and keep people out of the production space. In practice some human intervention is necessary and no matter how well sealed a class l cleanroom is it helps if it is surrounded by relatively clean air.
This principle can be applied to COVID. Luxury hotels are willing to spend lots of money to make their accommodations safe. In addition to requiring guests to wear masks it can create general space with class 100,000 air purity. Elevators, gyms, and restrooms can be designed as class 10,000 space.
In the case of an individual you have a two step process Step 1 is filtering out viruses being transmitted. Step 2 is filtering out viruses being inhaled.
Step 1 can be the filter in an HVAC system or it can be a mask. In each case the amount of virus inhaled is a function of the combined efficiency
For example if the transmitter and recipient each have N95 masks then the virus inhaled by the recipient is only 0.25 percent.
Compare this to the N30 mask where the combination results in the recipient inhaling 49 percent of the virus.
A MERV 13 filter in an HVAC system can provide a 30 percent reduction in viruses or equivalent to an N30 Mask. So if you have a building with MERV 13 filters providing 10 or more air changes per hour to each space and if each transmitter and recipient wears N30 masks the virus level is reduced in three steps. Seventy percent is reduced in the first step another 21 percent reduced in the second step and another 15 percent in the third step leaving 35 percent of the virus to be inhaled.
Let’s take the example of a hotel elevator with a HEPA filter delivering class 10,000 air. The transmitter rides to his floor but is wearing an N30 mask So the elevator air contains only 70 percent of the virus from the transmitter. The elevator HVAC system removes 95 percent of the virus leaving only 3.5 percent in the elevator when the recipient enters. He is wearing an N30 mask so he inhales only 1.2 percent of the potential transmission.
If a HEPA filter is installed in a robust HVAC system and laminar air flow prevents the transmitter from directly exhaling to the recipient then 99 percent of the virus is captured even if the recipient has no mask. In reality it is prohibitively expensive to create a space with the ceiling covered with HEPA filters discharging at 100 fpm and air return systems below a perforated floor. So some air will flow from transmitter to recipient without being first filtered.
So the recipient will be contaminated by the general viral load plus any virus from a transmitter circumventing the HVAC system.
Class 1000 to Class 1: Drug preparation areas of hospitals are often designed for class 1000 but with class 100 enclosures around actual filling operations. Isolation rooms in hospitals are designed to be class 100 but also to be under negative pressure.
The decision to invest in a class 10 or class 1 space is a function of risks to products or people. When applying this to COVID it is a consideration of risk to the general population as opposed to the risks to a specific individual. N30 masks may be sufficient to reduce the number of cases in the general population. But if the new cases are 100 today and 99 tomorrow it is not positive news for the 99. If by wearing N95 masks the new cases drop from 100 to 5 this is very positive for 95 individuals.
The weapons to fight COVID are reduced levels of virus in the local space plus reduction from individual transmitters and efficient elimination of viruses by the inhaling recipient. Every cleanroom operator would prefer to operate in a class 1 space but the cost exceeds the value in most cases. So there is always a risk. Whether it is pharmaceutical products, chips, or individuals the risk and rewards need to be analyzed and the proper level of investment made.
Information on Coronavirus Technology Solutions is found at: http://home.mcilvainecompany.com/index.php/markets/air/82ai-coronavirus-market-intelligence
Information on relevant market reports is found at www.mcilvainecompany.com and then click on markets.