The weak point of coronaviruses in this case is the so-called peak protein – a protein that is very sensitive to electrical voltage, explains Martin Garcia from the University of Kassel.
Since the beginning of 2020, the professor of physics and his team have been studying the behavior of the coronavirus in electric fields and have developed complex computer simulations over several weeks of work.
In the simulation, viruses are passed through an electric field created between two metal plates. This technology is not new. It is used, for example, for disinfection in the food industry. However, bacteria require a high voltage, while the method developed at the University of Kassel works with low current, for example from batteries.
Low voltage, high effect
Garcia explains that coronaviruses are “extremely unstable” and that low voltage changes their structure and thus renders them inactive. This means that viruses continue to exist, but can no longer attach to other cells and are therefore harmless. “It ‘s not a problem if you inhale [šādu neitralizētu] virus, “explains Garcia.
Therapies and vaccinations also target peak proteins. These proteins are even more sensitive to electrical voltage due to mutations, so as soon as they come into contact with an electrical voltage field, they become inactive.
With such an electric field, air filters can also be easily improved, says Garcia. No new equipment is needed, it can be used for existing filters, and the voltage method is cheaper in the long run because it requires little energy.
The filter that filters viruses from the air must be changed regularly, but this is not necessary using the Kassel method. Engineers at the University of Kassel are currently investigating exactly how to build such a filter and what such a device might look like.
The method can also be used in face masks
In some cases, such electric filters could also be integrated into face masks when used indoors, such as in discos. However, in everyday life, according to Professor Martin Garcia, this would not be practical.
The technology patent application has already been filed, but now all that remains is to find a company that would be willing to try it on their air filters. Until now, the development of the system has been based on physical models, which must finally be tested in practice. But Garcia and his team of researchers are optimistic that everything will go as planned.