Student start-up uses UVC light to kill viruses

December 06, 2021 - 08:08
The student project was praised for its practicality at Startup Kite 2021, a contest for vocational school students.
Nguyễn Dương Thanh, a member of the group installs UVC light into a cooling system. — Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Dương Thanh

HÀ NỘI — A group of students from Lý Tự Trọng College (HCM City) came up with an idea to integrate UVC light in refrigeration units to eliminate viruses and bacteria, including SARS-CoV-2. 

Final-year students Nguyễn Dương Thanh, Nguyễn Thị Kim Thoa, Lê Hoàng Huy, Lê Văn Nam, and Trần Thanh Mãi started the project after seeing the reality during their internship.

“We were installing cooling appliances for supermarkets as part of our internship. During this time, we noticed that there were micro-organism clusters in the cooling systems,” Nguyễn Dương Thanh said.

“We then tried to figure out how the cooling appliances could still function as usual while minimising the amount of bacteria and viruses on its surfaces. Integrating UVC light was the optimal option.”

Their work was praised for its practicality at Startup Kite 2021, a start-up idea contest for vocational school students. 

Based on the project, the group established a cleaning service company specialising in cooling appliances, prior to the contest.

“Establishing a company makes it easier to receive orders and install the device. It is also our opportunity to apply our idea into reality,” said Thanh.

What’s even more remarkable is that the integrated UVC light can eliminate SARS-CoV-2 on the surfaces of the cooling systems.

This practical feature has earned them their very first orders from Chợ Rẫy Hospital, Hoàn Mỹ Hospital and the People’s Hospital 115. 

“Disinfecting cooling systems with UVC light can help sanitise hospital rooms for patients who have just undergone surgery,” said Thanh. 

“It can also reduce electricity use and periodic maintenance costs.” 

The project has received VNĐ1 billion (US$43,878) in funding (equivalent to an 8 per cent share) and is under negotiation for another VNĐ1 billion of investment.

Entering Startup Kite 2021, the group hoped to get more investment to scale up their production.

According to Hoàng Văn Viết, deputy head of the Refrigeration Department of Lý Tự Trọng College in HCM City, the major advantage of the idea is that UVC light can be integrated into all types of cooling devices, especially air conditioning systems in supermarkets, hospitals and factories.

The modest cost to install UVC light (about VNĐ1.4 million) is also a plus point in real-life operation. 

Talking about future goals, Thanh said the company had already set out plans for the next three years.

HCM City and the surrounding provinces will be the centre of their focus in 2022.

In the following years, they will concentrate on product distribution and collaborating with partners and distributors to provide their services on a larger scale. — VNS