A Florida-based manufacturing company, Energy Harness Corporation, is making serious waves in the fight against COVID-19 and other airborne pathogens. Thanks to the assistance of graduates and students at Florida Gulf Coast University, the company’s Active Airflow UV-C Fixture has proven itself to be 99.998% effective in eliminating COVID, E. coli, and other deadly pathogens. One of the three students on the testing team, Dillon O’Neill, is a Sarasota native and 2017 graduate of Cardinal Mooney High School.
A Spring 2021 FGCU Honors College graduate, O’Neill majored in Bioengineering. During his time at FGCU, he also served as a teacher assistant and lab assistant for the university’s U.A. Whitaker College of Engineering.
The partnership between Energy Harness and FGCU materialized in fall 2020, after the Florida-based LED manufacturer hired an FGCU bioengineering graduate as a product engineer. That graduate, Nicholas Metro, had gained invaluable experience as a student in the FGCU bioengineering laboratory. As Energy Harness sought options for testing its new Active Airflow UV-C Fixture, Metro recommended the FGCU lab.
“We were confident that our fixture could destroy pathogens by exposing them to UV light, but we needed to validate it,” explains Peter Lehrer, senior vice president of project development at Energy Harness. “FGCU’s bioengineering students built the test rig, cultured the E. coli bacteria, and tested it at different distances, intensities, times, and levels. It really helped us to solidify the final piece of the puzzle.”
Dr. Chris Geiger, associate professor at FGCU’s U.A. Whitaker College of Engineering and chairperson of the Department of Bioengineering, says that experiences like this are invaluable to students. “It’s hard to replicate the ups and downs associated with research in a classroom environment,” Geiger explains. “Any time you have the opportunity to take theory and put it into practice, there’s value for our students. We didn’t know what the results would be going into this experiment. Having research collaborations for these experiential learning opportunities provides valuable real-world experience.”
While O’Neill and two other FGCU bioengineering students were testing the Active Airflow technology against bacterial contamination, the device was also being tested on live SARS-CoV-2 by KR Biotech, a university affiliated research center focused on the development of preventive vaccines and treatments for infectious diseases. In both cases, the laboratory tests revealed that Energy Harness’ technology can effectively kill 99.998% of novel coronavirus and other deadly pathogens in just one second of exposure.
“The FGCU results are especially important because E. coli is used as a surrogate for testing other pathogens,” says Michael Fischer, president of Energy Harness Corporation. “When something can severely damage or eliminate E. coli, it can do the same for other, more insidious, bacteria and viruses.”
In addition to its efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 and E. coli, Energy Harness’ Active Airflow UV-C technology is proven to be more than 99.9% effective in eliminating other harmful pathogens such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, and influenza. With epidemiologists predicting an increase in worldwide viral outbreaks, the Active Airflow UV-C Fixture will be essential in confronting future pandemics, as well as combatting the more common ‘bug that’s going around the office.’
Energy Harness has deployed Active Airflow units in schools, hospitals, outpatient centers, libraries, and offices across the nation. The fixture is safe, quiet, and is easily placed in a drop ceiling or wall-mounted, making it convenient to install in public spaces of any size or type. The fixture is available for distribution across North America.