What if we could use light to kill the coronavirus and get back to life as we once knew it? Huge UV spotlights could be a promising way to ensure virus-free outdoor city life.
Put your hand up if you are fed up with sitting at home and a barely existent social life. Yes, vaccination programmes are rolling out in most countries, but there is still a long road ahead to achieving herd immunity. And it is more than just our social lives that have been hit hard by the pandemic; small businesses are really struggling, especially in food service with many restaurants, cafés or bars forced to close and declare bankruptcy after a year of ongoing lock- and shutdowns.
A team of designers from Dutch Roosegaarde design studio and international scientists have now come up with an idea that could flip the switch back: coronavirus-killing UVC light. It could almost re-establish normalcy, at least outdoors in our urban centres. We might finally be able to sit outside in a restaurant or enjoy a cup of coffee in a café without fearing infection from airborne viruses.
The team says that far UVC light with a wavelength of 222 nanometres can sanitise the air and actually remove 99.9% of viruses, including various strains of coronavirus and influenza. They have developed a huge spotlight that can be mounted high above our heads, the Urban Sun. It creates an infection-free zone on the ground where people can move about freely with no social distancing. The wavelength is important here. UV light has always been quite effective in killing viruses and bacteria, but it can also cause serious damage to human health. The 222 nm wavelength and high placement of the light ensures the Urban Sun won’t cause any harm. Tests have shown an extremely high effectiveness in eliminating coronavirus in aerosols.
“Suddenly our world has become filled with plastic barriers and distance stickers, our families reduced to pixels on a computer screen. Let’s be the architects of our new normal and create better places to meet,” one of the project initiators Daan Roosegaarde says.