Cape Coral company creates device to kill COVID-19 germs
LEE COUNTY, Fla. – Inside a lab at Florida Gulf Coast University, scientists take a petri dish tainted with bacteria, slide it under a light, and within one second the pathogens had vanished.
To get the answer on how that happened, we went to a nondescript building in Cape Coral.
“This is where the magic happens,” said Peter Lehrer, Vice President of Project Development at Energy Harness Corporation.
They specialize in commercial lighting, but at the start of the pandemic, as they were working remotely like most of us, they had an idea.
“We thought what can we do to get ourselves back to work and everyone else? It was really selfish for us because we wanted to get back to the office,” Lehrer said.
His team reconfigured a lighting fixture to act like an air filter, with a hidden chamber equipped with ultra-violet lights.
They sent their design to an independent lab for testing. The results showed the fixture is 99.998% effective at killing COVID-19.
So Energy Harness Corporation submitted it for a patent, and got busy selling.
“I think we’ve done six or seven school systems already, we’ve done a hospital, a number of nursing homes,” Lehrer said.
No schools in Southwest Florida use the device so far, but it got us wondering what our schools will be like in the fall when students will no longer be required to wear a mask.
“So we’re at 80-percent capacity now. If we get to 95-percent, obviously students are going to be closer together,” explained Rob Spicker, spokesperson for the Lee County School District.
Spicker said schools have upgraded their air filters during the pandemic, but the price tag of these U-V fixtures, roughly $1,200 each, could be a sticking point.
“You’re looking at 95 schools with 50 to 100 classrooms each, so it could be a rather expensive proposition,” Spicker said.
Lehrer is optimistic that schools will tap into the money they’re getting from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. The Forida Department of Education alone received $2.8 billion, and much of that money is designated for health and safety improvements.
Lehrer thinks his fixtures are the future, even after the pandemic.
“When we get on the other side of COVID-19 and we get to this year‘s version of the flu, this product is just as effective,” he said.
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