CoronaVirus started breaking havoc in late 2019, and the world since then has not been the same. Several technologies, some existing and some new, have been used to combat the fatal virus. In this interaction we speak with Ajit Aras, executive vice president of Sharp Singapore Electronics Corporation about Sharp’s Plasma Cluster Ioniser Technology.
Tests done at the Nagasaki University’s Health and Disease Control facility show that this tech from Sharp can bring down CoronaVirus in a room by more than 91 per cent. How this works and how this was developed? Ajit Aras answers.
Excerpts from the conversation
Que 1 – What is the technology in question here?
Ans 1 – What we are sharing here is Plasma Cluster Ioniser and Sharp has been incorporating this technology in finished products since 2001. From there on we have invested a lot in researching and making this technology better. Today we are in the 10th generation of PlasmaCluster Technology. The 10th generation of Plasma Cluster Technology features significant jump in power generation using less electricity, significant jump in the amount of Ions produced and so on.
All of us know that this coronavirus is air borne. We need to get back the livelihoods of people without compromising on the security front. Now the main way of this is by preventing airborne infections. Now, this plasma cluster technology helps in cleansing the air from all these pathogens. So, this is something that is really offering us the chance to bounce back and get running as fast as we were before the corona virus struck us.
Que 2 – What actually is the technology doing?
Ans 2 – What this technology does is it breaks moisture present in the air by an electric arc to release positive hydrogen(H+) and negative oxygen(O2-) ions that form clusters to transform into OH radicals.The positive and negative ions are the same as those generated in nature by a waterfall.The next step is the most interesting part.
Let’s say we have pathogens, microbes, viruses and bacteria in the air.The OH radicals cling to viruses or other pathogens and extract hydrogen(H) from their surfaces to form mixture (H2O).Extracting hydrogen from the surface of the virus or a pathogen, damages its defense, think of it as puncturing its spacesuit and therefore neutralizes the pathogen-so it is not infectious anymore. This is exactly what washing hands with soaps or sanitizers does to viruses. This is why Plasmacluster Ionizer is so effective against viruses like Covid-19.
The way Sharp has designed it, and refined over years to make it operational with a simple 12V supply. From a system integration point of view, this becomes a very straight forward module that does its job.
Que 3 – How do you see the technology?
Ans 3 – We are an electronics company. Our purpose has been to apply technology for the good of the community. In March 2020, life halted all over the planet. There was an acute shortage of masks as Sharp at that time started making facemasks. We re-purposed available cleanrooms for manufacturing of these masks to start in record time.
Further we also started manufacturing face shields. There we applied some of the tech that we use to make LCD displays sunlight readable. This Moth Eye technology make the face shields crystal clear which gives clear sight as well as clear visibility of the person who is wearing it. Several professionals like dentists, stage performers and video journalists greatly appreciated the clarity of these moth eye face shields
To answer the question, we see this and any other technology we create, is intended to improve the lives of people. Plasma Cluster technology is something that is presenting the world a chance to combat corona in a better way.
Que 4 – Is this effective beyond viruses, bacteria, microbes and pathogens?
Ans – Yes, absolutely. We are also using the same technology for keeping molds from growing. So, not just pathogens, it is also effective in areas which witness a lot of humidity. In practicality, we have found usage of this technology to be excellent in countries like India and Singapore where the humidity levels are very high.
You must have seen that there are certain corners in ACs and refrigerators where mold can build up within a matter of months, sometimes even days. What follows includes a moist, damp smell, and dangers of fungal growth.
One more function that this technology performs is it reduces volatile organic compounds from the air. This further results in deactivation of other harmful particles in the air. Hence, this technology can be used in a place where there is air flow.
Que 5 – Do you own a patent around the same? Where have you all used this tech?
And 5 – Yes Sharp has patented the technology. This tech comes embedded with Sharp ACs, refrigerators as well as air purifiers. Sharp has also collaborated with other industry leaders to incorporate Plasmacluster tech in transportation, hotels, complexes and medical facilities.
Que 6 – Any specific changes made to enable this tech to kill corona?
Ans 6 – The mechanism of how it works is one of the beauties of the plasma cluster technology. We had SAARS about 15 years ago and unfortunately corona is now creating unprecedented pain in the world. I would like to mention here that SAARS was also a coronavirus, but the RNAs of the two are different.
By nature, both these viruses have protein layers around them, which protect the virus like a space suit. Now, the way PlasmaCluster Technology works, it does not depend on the RNA or DNA of a coronavirus. All it does is tear the protein layer, and as a result the corona virus cannot survive anymore.
This is the same mechanism that killed SAARS, and the same mechanism that we are using to kill covid. Not just this, this tech can kill any types of viruses.
Que 7 – Are there any tests done that prove the efficacy of the technology?
Ans 7 – Tests conducted by Sharp, Nagasaki University & Shimane University have shown that Plasmacluster Ionizer can reduce airborne corona virus by more than 91% and adhered coronavirus by more than 99%. Besides the effectiveness of PCI technology in eliminating pathogens, allergens & VOCs has been tested and proven by more than 30 independent institutions in more than 10 countries.
Que 8 – What was the last time when Sharp reached a major breakthrough in the technology?
Ans – The efficacy of this tech is measured by the concentration of the ions and the efficacy of ions is measured by calculating ions present per cubic centimetre. Let’s say we go near a waterfall there you would see around 1000 ions per cubic centimeter. In urban areas this density is almost 1/5th of the density found around waterfalls. That is one of the reasons we feel stress free around waterfalls.
With the latest developments in this technology,we have been able to bring this ion density even higher than that. We refer to the latest version of this tech as “High Density Next”. We are now concentrating more on finding a better connection between these ions and how they help lower stress levels.
Just to note, anything more than 25000 ions per cubic metres can kill viruses in under nine minutes. In case of the hidden viruses, the ones that hide in corners and tables, going beyond the 25000 ions per cubic metres can kill them in under eight hours.
Que 9 – Are you looking to find answers to some questions or bleeding edges to this technology?
Ans – Let me start by telling you what we are doing with startups. Now that we have test reports proving how it works, and there are no side effects to it, we are moving from products to having this technology embedded into a small duct that can be retro-fitted easily in hotels, hospitals, shopping malls, metro stations and more.
We call it a duct type unit which intakes the air coming from any source. In simpler words, this can be fitted into the air vents inside any building or facility. So, the source of the air is already there and this duct is making sure that the air delivered is clean and does not contain any kind of viruses or pathogens.
Certain sectors have already shown a lot of response in technology. One of the questions that we receive from our clients that we are trying to answer is how to show people walking into our facilities that this thing works. I think it is more about assurance.
We are now trying to build an IoT ecosystem where you can actually measure the ions realtime and show it realtie via an app, or maybe a screen, to people present there. That communication is a part where we are working with partners and the opportunity is open to startups to collaborate with us. We are trying to incorporate machine learning and artificial intelligence into it to better it.
Que 10 – Have you collaborated with other brands for this technology?
Ans – We have gone beyond the ambit of consumer electronics and helped a lot of brands in adapting this technology both for residential, as well as commercial use. Sharp has collaborated with car makers and embedded this technology into various car models being sold today. We have also embedded this technology into hospitals.
Sharp has also incorporated this technology into its line of refrigerators and has helped other brands adapt this technology into their range of refrigerators. Though Sharp sells more than 100 million finished products in the market, what we are bringing now is a duct type fitment of the Plasmacluster Ioniser. This duct type ioniser can be fitted into anyplace.