Alberta tech company hopes air decontamination device will help mitigate Omicron variant spread

As the Omicron variant continues to spread in the province, an Alberta-based tech company is hoping its new high tech air decontamination device can help mitigate the transmission of airborne viruses including the Omicron variant.

The device is called Ti-DOX HydroxylizAire and attaches to a furnace. Circulated air travels through a chamber where it is met with 50 C lamp heat and UVC exposure, creating a chemical reaction cleaning process.

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“Particular pathogens would actually be destroyed as opposed to being captured in a filter, so what we’re doing is we’re purifying the air through a natural process,” Ti-DOX president Dean Neitz said.

“What we’re trying to do with this technology is improve air quality inside of buildings on an ongoing basis,” Neitz said.

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Ti-DOX vice president Reinha­­­­rd Schuetz created the device and said the idea was born more than ten years ago, when he was working as a petroleum engineer trying to decontaminate storage tanks from chemical emissions.

“Subsequently, discovering that (the process) actually destroyed things like hydrogen sulfide and ammonia, I also realized because of that it can also destroy germs and pathogens,” Schuetz said.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: No new restrictions announced in Alberta in wake of rapidly spreading Omicron variant' COVID-19: No new restrictions announced in Alberta in wake of rapidly spreading Omicron variant

COVID-19: No new restrictions announced in Alberta in wake of rapidly spreading Omicron variant

While the technology has not been tested for COVID-19, air quality and better ventilation is now top of mind for many people.

“All of COVID has been airborne from the beginning — it’s just never more evident than it is now,” ER doctor Joe Vipond said.

With widespread cases of the Omicron variant in Alberta, there are growing calls from some medical professionals and school boards to improve ventilation in indoor spaces.

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“The fact that we have acknowledged airborne transmission is a great first step, but now we have to acknowledge the mitigation measures that come along with an airborne virus,” Dr. Vipond said.

Dr. Vipond said ventilation, even if that’s just opening windows in some cases, is one more layer of protection to go along with properly worn masks, vaccines and physical distancing.

As for Schuetz and Neitz, they hope their device can make a difference.

“I think it’s a very timely invention for where we are in the world today,” Neitz said. “I think that our air is becoming a greater concern.”

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