NI firm creates steriliser killing 99.9999% of airborne pathogens
From left, Carl McGarrity from The Salthouse Hotel in Ballycastle (one of the first local businesses to install the Ilimex UV-C Air Steriliser); Gerry Corrigan, chief executive officer, Ilimex; Dr Patrick Dunlop, senior lecturer at the School of Engineering, Ulster University; Dr Vicky Kell, director of Innovation, Research & Development, Invest NI; and Richard McCauley, chief technical officer, Ilimex.
A new technology created in Northern Ireland, Ilimex, is offering a potential solution to co-existing with Covid-19 and keeping public spaces and workplaces virus free while rebooting the economy.
The Ilimex UV-C Air Steriliser, which completed a second phase of testing at Ulster University this month, has been proven to uniquely kill viruses and bacteria, as well as improving air quality in the environment in which it is installed.
Air sterilisation has more recently become a major concern, following studies that suggest it is now considered the dominant method of transmission for Covid-19. No other product on the market is dealing with this transmission method as efficiently or as effectively as the Ilimex air sterilisation unit.
By using a combination of sterilisation technologies to continuously eliminate 99.9999% of airborne pathogens on the first pass through the unit, the device also removes dangerous pollutants from the environment in which it is situated including Volatile Organic Compounds, formaldehydes, benzene, nitrogen dioxide, mold spores, smoke and particulate matter.
It does this by employing wide band extra long-life UV sources including high efficiency light-emitting diodes, to reduce operating cost, titanium dioxide photocatalytic filtration, silver-ion doped HEPA 13 filtering to PM1 (antibacterial filter) and activated carbon.
The Ilimex UV-C Air Steriliser is one of the first of its kind to uniquely and safely transform and cleanse the air quality in any number of spaces and could be a revolutionary tool for businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond, as recent studies show that airborne transmission is now considered the dominant transmission method.
The creators of the sterilising technology are engaging with the NI Executive to support its upcoming launch as a tool to help reignite the economy and everyday life during the pandemic.
With £1m of funding secured to cover start-up costs, research, work to date to include scale up and manufacturing provision and plans for expansion, Ilimex will officially launch the product in the United Kingdom and Ireland this month. The company has ambitious plans to roll out the product globally, with distribution as far as Australia already in place.
Invest Northern Ireland has offered just over £75,000 of support to assist Ilimex in the development of the technology which is also supported by the McHenry Group in Ballycastle.
“Ilimex is a new company with global ambitions,” said Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI director of Innovation, Research & Development. “It identified a market need for robust air quality control systems and quickly recognised that to get its idea to market, investment in R&D was key.
“We provided the company with technical advice and support during the initial development of the air sterilisation unit and since then, it has used our innovation vouchers to undertake detailed efficacy testing with Ulster University.
“We are also supporting it to create six new jobs and our marketing assistance is helping it to develop its brand. All of this support combined has assisted Ilimex to bring its idea from concept through to the production of a now market-ready system.”
As well as boasting bacteria and virus killing technology, the Ilimex UV-C Air Steriliser also flaunts low maintenance attributes. It’s kinder to the environment and comes in a range of models to accommodate various spaces including intimate rooms, to large scale offices and hospitality establishments.
Its USPs include its ability to kill harmful bacteria and viruses in the first pass, self-health monitoring technology, low running costs and a simple ‘plug and play’ setup.
It also sterilises the surrounding environment five times per hour to give users reassurance that they are operating in the safest, cleanest environment.
Stringent tests carried out at Ulster University, using Bacteriophage MS2 – a stubborn robust organism – as a viral surrogate proved that the Ilimex can provide confidence that a >99.9999% (>6log) reduction of coronavirus is attainable with the underpinning Ilimex technology.
A second phase of testing, completed earlier this month, has reaffirmed the efficiency of the product.
Patrick Dunlop, senior lecturer at the School of Engineering, Ulster University, said: “My team and colleagues within the School of Biomedical Sciences, including Dr Nigel Ternan and Dr Bill Snelling, have looked at the effectiveness of the technology and refined the product in collaboration with Ilimex.
“We’ve also carried out extensive testing and proven that it removes a high number of viruses. We’ve been impressed with how the Ilimex team have responded to the need for advanced air treatment technology.”
Gerry Corrigan, chief executive, Ilimex, said: “We have been working with Ulster University’s Schools of Engineering and Biomedical Sciences to refine what is a life-changing installation that could help not just NI but the global economy to co-exist with Covid-19.
“Air can be infectious for a long time and the technology used by the Ilimex UV-C Air Steriliser ensures cleaning occurs on first pass. Our research shows that as a result of using this technology no viable viruses could be detected. It is 100% effective and with such results we believe we are in a position to transform how we live and work during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Richard McCauley, chief technical officer for Ilimex, said: “The Ilimex UV-C Air Steriliser is a revolutionary product that will make places where we work, play and live safer.
“We have created a range of devices that will suit different areas and help clean the air in places where people feel they are most at risk, for example, nursing homes, dentists and offices. This product will have application across all sectors including hospitality, transport, education and healthcare.
“In Ireland, less than 15% of offices are currently occupied and we know that this technology will give employers and employees the confidence to return to their workplaces and get their businesses up and running again.”
Carl McGarrity of the Salthouse Hotel in Ballycastle has installed the Ilimex UV-C Air Steriliser. He said: “As a hospitality business you have an immense duty of care to keep both your staff and customers safe and today this means ensuring your premises are virus free.
“Having the Ilimex UV-C Air Steriliser installed in our premises gives us that reassurance that we are doing everything we can to ensure safety. It’s a very smart device, easy to use and an investment that we know will pay off for years to come.”