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Company says air purifying system cuts virus

TOKYO >> Sharp Corp. said Monday that its air purifying technology is able to dramatically reduce airborne coronavirus particles, claiming it as a world first.

The Osaka-based electronics company said its plasmacluster technology, which emits hydrogen and oxygen ions, cut coronavirus particles by about 90% in an experiment run jointly with Nagasaki and Shimane universities.

Since the research was conducted on a small scale and in a controlled environment, the technology’s effectiveness in a real-life setting has not been established.

Researchers sprayed a solution containing coronavirus into a purification device equipped with the plasmacluster ion technology. The solution was retrieved after 30 seconds and showed a 91.3% reduction in virus particles.

“Based on the result of this experiment, we will consider and provide effective uses (for) the … technology to mitigate the risk of the coronavirus infection,” said Masahiro Okitsu, who heads Sharp’s division for smart appliances and solutions.

He said the next step is to conduct tests that more closely simulate a real-world environment.

How the technology works: Positive hydrogen ions and negative oxygen ions stick to airborne viruses, fungi and other particles, then ions bond and transform to inhibit viruses.

Asked if plasmacluster air purifiers already available on the market can reduce airborne coronavirus, Jiro Yasuda, a professor at Nagasaki University, said their effectiveness depends on various factors, but they are probably effective “to a certain degree.”

While the experiment proved the system’s effectiveness, Okitsu said Sharp isn’t planning to use the results for marketing. Advertising a device as effective in combating COVID-19 first requires that it be recognized as a medical device, which he said is not an easy task.

Plasmacluster technology is included in Sharp’s air purifiers and other home electronics appliances, such as air conditioners and refrigerators.

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