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Black & Veatch helps bring COVID-19-killing ‘Air Vaccine’ technology to market

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A new device is using what’s being called “Air Vaccine” technology to kill COVID-19 in the air. KMBC 9 got a look at how it works and the role Overland Park-based Black & Veatch played in getting it to market. COVID-19 is an invisible threat, lurking in public places we visit every day. “We just sort of take clean air for granted,” said Ryan Pletka. He’s part of the team at Black & Veatch that helped test a new device proven to eliminate 99.5% of COVID-19 in the air. It can be installed in “schools, hospitals, office buildings… any sort of occupied spaces like that,” Pletka said. The Hummingbird EQ is an air purification system developed by clean-tech company Energy Cloud. They reached out to Black & Veatch through the company’s COVID-19 Response Accelerator, which Pletka explained provides funding “to help newly emerging solutions get to market faster… prove themselves out in a way they may not be able to on their own.”The system uses trademarked “Air Vaccine” technology, which kills the virus through a process called photocatalytic oxidation. “It’s able to break down bad gasses that you might find in the environment… as well as viruses such as COVID,” said Energy Cloud CEO John Carrieri. It can go into a building’s HVAC system or work as a portable unit in smaller spaces.“The elevator is the most obvious example of that, but it could also be commercial restrooms, places where you have a line of people particularly like a grocery store,” said Carrieri. “As people walk by it, all of their breath that they expel is going to be pulled into the system, immediately purified.”The system went through rigorous testing in laboratories at the University of Southern California. Carrieri says it successfully deactivated a COVID-19 sample that was 3,000 times the infectious dose.“You can have an army of COVID breathers and we’d be able to deactivate it if they breathed in our system,” he said. “As soon as (the virus) goes in there, it’s going to deactivate it on the very first pass,” said Carrieri. “If we’re able to deactivate the virus as soon as it goes through, it’s certainly going to help reduce transmission of the virus.”Carrieri says Black & Veatch was crucial in the testing process, getting the device approved and on its way to fight COVID-19 across the country.“We wanted to do what I believe is the right way to test it, with the real-life air flows,” he said. “That’s where Black & Veatch’s help both financially and expertise-wise was invaluable.” Pletka said his team helped “to make sure the design of the test, the protocols… that when it was done it was really done to a level that, as a much larger corporation, (Energy Cloud) would be comfortable standing behind.”He added, “it was really kind of like saying, you know, ‘what would Black & Veatch need to see in order for us to be comfortable recommending a technology like that?’” The system also provides proof of air quality inside buildings through a QR code and URL. “Our system is based on real data, so when someone scans a QR code, they’ll actually see the air quality of the building in real time,” Carrieri explained.For example, if the system is inside a school, the link could be sent to parents so they could view the air quality rating at any given time. For Black & Veatch, the chance to help realize COVID-19 solutions fits in with their historic mission.“Black & Veatch has been very, very forward-thinking … in terms of how we can apply innovation to humanity’s pressing challenges for 100-plus years,” said Pletka. “We can mask, we can vaccinate but … really we need to apply multiple layers of protection in order for us to be able to have some sense of normalcy coming back.”

A new device is using what’s being called “Air Vaccine” technology to kill COVID-19 in the air. KMBC 9 got a look at how it works and the role Overland Park-based Black & Veatch played in getting it to market.

COVID-19 is an invisible threat, lurking in public places we visit every day. “We just sort of take clean air for granted,” said Ryan Pletka. He’s part of the team at Black & Veatch that helped test a new device proven to eliminate 99.5% of COVID-19 in the air. It can be installed in “schools, hospitals, office buildings… any sort of occupied spaces like that,” Pletka said.

The Hummingbird EQ is an air purification system developed by clean-tech company Energy Cloud. They reached out to Black & Veatch through the company’s COVID-19 Response Accelerator, which Pletka explained provides funding “to help newly emerging solutions get to market faster… prove themselves out in a way they may not be able to on their own.”

The system uses trademarked “Air Vaccine” technology, which kills the virus through a process called photocatalytic oxidation. “It’s able to break down bad gasses that you might find in the environment… as well as viruses such as COVID,” said Energy Cloud CEO John Carrieri.

It can go into a building’s HVAC system or work as a portable unit in smaller spaces.

“The elevator is the most obvious example of that, but it could also be commercial restrooms, places where you have a line of people particularly like a grocery store,” said Carrieri. “As people walk by it, all of their breath that they expel is going to be pulled into the system, immediately purified.”

The system went through rigorous testing in laboratories at the University of Southern California. Carrieri says it successfully deactivated a COVID-19 sample that was 3,000 times the infectious dose.

“You can have an army of COVID breathers and we’d be able to deactivate it if they breathed in our system,” he said.

“As soon as (the virus) goes in there, it’s going to deactivate it on the very first pass,” said Carrieri. “If we’re able to deactivate the virus as soon as it goes through, it’s certainly going to help reduce transmission of the virus.”

Carrieri says Black & Veatch was crucial in the testing process, getting the device approved and on its way to fight COVID-19 across the country.

“We wanted to do what I believe is the right way to test it, with the real-life air flows,” he said. “That’s where Black & Veatch’s help both financially and expertise-wise was invaluable.”

Pletka said his team helped “to make sure the design of the test, the protocols… that when it was done it was really done to a level that, as a much larger corporation, (Energy Cloud) would be comfortable standing behind.”

He added, “it was really kind of like saying, you know, ‘what would Black & Veatch need to see in order for us to be comfortable recommending a technology like that?’”

The system also provides proof of air quality inside buildings through a QR code and URL. “Our system is based on real data, so when someone scans a QR code, they’ll actually see the air quality of the building in real time,” Carrieri explained.

For example, if the system is inside a school, the link could be sent to parents so they could view the air quality rating at any given time.

For Black & Veatch, the chance to help realize COVID-19 solutions fits in with their historic mission.

“Black & Veatch has been very, very forward-thinking … in terms of how we can apply innovation to humanity’s pressing challenges for 100-plus years,” said Pletka. “We can mask, we can vaccinate but … really we need to apply multiple layers of protection in order for us to be able to have some sense of normalcy coming back.”

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