LSU creates mobile decontamination unit enabling hospitals to reuse masks
In addition to producing personal protective equipment (PPE) at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (PMAC), LSU is now also developing a mobile decontamination unit for hospitals to use to decontaminate masks.
The team at LSU has developed an ultraviolet light-powered mobile decontamination unit from a food warmer. The tall, metal box usually keeps food warm at restaurants, bakeries, and other food service businesses in commercial kitchens.
“Reusing PPE that is designed to be disposable goes against every health and safety practice known to those in the medical community. This decontamination unit could provide some peace of mind for those on the front line of this fight,” said Michael Hooks, director of LSU’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety.
The team, made up of people from LSU’s College of Agriculture, College of the Coast & Environment, College of Science, and the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, was able to reconfigure the food warmer in order to generate the energy needed to deactivate the COVID-19 virus and other viruses as well.
“We are adapting that equipment to hold and sanitize PPE masks through the use of ultraviolet, or UVC, light,” said Bill Gibson, coordinator of the Field Services Group for the LSU Coastal Studies Institute. “The ultraviolet light allows medical staff to decontaminate the equipment quickly and effectively before reusing it.”
“LSU faculty, staff, and students are focusing their great ingenuity, creativity, expertise, and stakeholder partnerships to help solve the critical shortage of personal protective gear for our front-line health professionals and patients. This is one shining example of our total commitment to LSU’s mission. We are here for the people, industries and State of Louisiana,” said LSU Vice President of Research & Economic Development Sam Bentley.
Gibson says the idea for the device was previously shown to be effective by the University of Nebraska, but LSU’s unit is smaller and mobile.
“Following their design and improving on their designs, we took the initial concept and looked for an effective way to adapt it to what we had on hand. We decided to scale the size of it down to allow for this to be set up in a smaller room that would be away from patients and medical staff. The idea was to make it portable and easier to use and setup,” Gibson said.
LSU’s team says it plans to manufacture more of these decontamination units with partners at LSU Health New Orleans.
The project is being affectionately called “SaniTiger” and was funded by LSU’s Office of Research and Economic Development (ORED).
In addition to creating the mobile decontamination unit, LSU’s COVID-19 response efforts include the following:
-Establishing coronavirus testing facilities at LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, LSU’s School of Veterinary Medicine’s River Road Laboratory and LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans
-Initiating clinical trials measuring the safety and efficacy of drugs like hydroxychloroquine and potential treatments like inhaled nitric oxide against the virus
-Coordinating PPE collection and donation from LSUA, LSUE, and LSUS
-Facilitating extension, outreach and education through LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center and the LSU AgCenter
-Funding and managing rapid innovation in gown and shield PPE design, and large-scale hand sanitizer production in Baton Rouge