Startup NoviSphere launches ultraviolet germ zapper for COVID aerosols

NoviSphere, a startup based in Illinois, introduced a short-wavelength ultraviolet pathogen-eradication system on Tuesday that could prove helpful in fighting airborne COVID-19 in retail and work environments.

The company’s NoviSphere PE 254 product kills germs as they pass through a tunnel-like device that could be mounted inside of ventilation ducts or installed high on the walls of rooms in various settings, from doctor’s offices to gymnasium or airport lounges. 

The device is powerful enough to provide four complete air changes per hour in an average room killing up to 99.99% of airborne viruses, bacteria and mold spores as air passing through is exposed to UV-C light, which operates at the 254 nm wavelength, the company said.  Testing was done at the University of Minnesota using an RNA virus similar to COVID-19, and further testing is planned in 2021 to show an even higher level of virus eradication.

novisphere device

NoviSphere CEO Paul Lockhart, a former NASA astronaut, said the process is safe for people nearby with the UV-C light sealed inside the PE 254 device.

In an interview, Lockhart said the first customers are expected in January, with an initial cost per unit of $6,000 to $8,000. Customers may purchase the units outright or lease them or lease them to buy. 

The “kill rate” of the PE 254 will be the highest of similar devices on the market, he said. 

 Novisphere officially launched Tuesday and is wholly-owned by Bancroft Architects + Engineers of Elk Grove Village, Illinois.

With air being drawn into the unit at a high rate, the noise level of the device is normally slightly higher than a normal speaking level, and reaches 61 db at a full setting, Lockhart said.  Lockhart has experience in engine testing from his years as a fighter and test pilot for the U.S. Air Force before he served as a NASA astronaut.

NoviSphere COO Joe Cestari has a 30-year background in semiconductor design, equipment engineering and advanced technology development.

Lockhart said NoviSphere expects to produce other devices to kill pathogens that are airborne and on surfaces.  The PE 254 “will be a component of a full suite of methods” for cleaning workspaces and other environments, he said.

RELATED: Cleaning robots are in vogue with COVID-19