pathogen free travel

The Airport’s Guide to Safe, Pathogen-Free Travel

By Marty Piette, A.A.E., Airport Director
Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport (GRB)

Air travel is picking up as more of the U.S. population gets vaccinated and becomes comfortable with taking to the skies once again. This is encouraging for many reasons. As the past year has made clear, a drop in passenger numbers impacts not only the immediate air-travel ecosystem, but also the local economy.

As airline capacity nears pre-pandemic levels, we’re excited to see more and more families at our ticket counters and boarding flights bound for warm-weather destinations and other locations. In addition, we’re seeing a slow but steady increase in business travel, and we anticipate a greater uptick in the months ahead as businesses begin to allow their employees to travel for work.

As a leading regional airport, we are committed to making air travel safe and pathogen-free. To this end, last June we implemented our “Flying GRB Means Clean” initiative, which we believe represents a best-practice approach to keeping travelers safe throughout their GRB experience.

The initiative features a range of processes, products and equipment into which we’ve invested significant resources so that people will feel more confident traveling. They include:

  • Enhanced cleaning of all high-touch areas in the airport terminal
  • Masking requirements
  • Hand-sanitizing and mask-distribution stations
  • Plexiglass barriers and social-distancing markers throughout the airport
  • Periodic terminal-wide application of EnviroShield® disinfectant
  • A virtually touch-free experience from the moment you enter the parking lot until you board your aircraft

We created the initiative with the intent that it would continue to evolve, incorporating new technologies as they become available.

In March of this year, we made another significant addition to the “Flying GRB Means Clean” Initiative. GRB became the first airport in the U.S. to adopt the NoviSphere™ PE 254 pathogen-eradication system for the ultimate in air purification. We have installed three of the units: two on the main terminal floor – in baggage claim and near the elevator and escalators – and one on Concourse B. Each of the units provides continuous pathogen eradication, via UV-C light, for up to 13,000 cubic feet of air volume, ensuring a continuous supply of clean, breathable air for travelers and workers throughout the building.

UV-C light enables safer travel

The NoviSphere PE 254 exposes room air to scientifically proven UV-C light arrays and proprietary baffling technology sealed inside the unit, killing 99.99% of germs, bacteria and viruses, including the coronavirus.

Paul Lockhart, NoviSphere CEO, noted, “We recognized the need for clean, germ-free air in many public settings and began developing our technology well before the pandemic hit. With the advent of COVID-19, getting our pathogen eradicator into environments such as airports became much more urgent. Our partnership with GRB demonstrates the airport’s confidence in our solution and represents another important step toward helping restore the public’s trust in traveling safely.”

UV-C light is well known as a means of killing pathogens in hospitals and clinics, but implementing it safely in high-traffic indoor areas has been more difficult to accomplish. The NoviSphere PE 254 is completely safe, as the UV-C arrays are sealed in the system. This was another factor that made the units highly attractive to us at GRB, as was their flexibility in terms of installation. We chose ceiling mounting as the most unobtrusive for our needs, but the units can be implemented in a number of other ways, as well – e.g., wall mounted or inserted into an HVAC system.

While not everyone flying into and out GRB may get to see the NoviSphere units in action, it’s important for people to know that we are doing all we can to keep them safe. We believe our multifaceted approach serves as a new and evolving blueprint to help airports become safe, pathogen-free travel environments.

is it safe to eat at restaurants

Not Just Curbside: Making Dining In Safe Again

By NoviSphere™ Staff

In the four months since we launched this series examining how to help people feel safe in public settings – starting with retail shopping, then moving on to schools and travel – there has been notable advancement in the rollout of vaccines. As of this writing, about 20% of the eligible U.S. population has been vaccinated against COVID-19, and states are increasingly lowering the age threshold to speed the process. Things are looking up, and opening up – including restaurants, another public venue that people are eager to see return to pre-COVID normal.

However, the fact remains that the coronavirus and other diseases can be spread via airborne transmission of pathogens, and packed restaurants would certainly enable this. What to do if you are unable, or choose not, to be vaccinated? Or if/when a new virus or variant emerges that threatens to create another global pandemic (which is highly likely, according to Infection Control Today)? It’s vital that measures be put into place in all of the aforementioned environments to mitigate the spread of infections by improving air quality.

Dine in, breathe easy

While some establishments have kept going over the last year on takeout/delivery orders and outside dining setups where possible, many have not survived. We’ve all observed this in our communities, which have, in turn, struggled to deal with the loss of revenue and jobs. How to keep diners safe so that at-capacity indoor dining can resume has been a paramount concern since the pandemic began.

Last July, Modern Restaurant Management discussed the importance of indoor air quality, recommending a multilayered approach that includes turning to the latest air-purification technology: “Scrubbing the air, so to speak, can ensure customers and employees aren’t breathing harmful pollutants in restaurants, which one ranking puts among the 10 worst public places for indoor air quality.” In a subsequent article, the publication advocated taking air quality into consideration when designing future restaurants, per recommendations developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Utilizing new and better systems and equipment, the author notes, will enhance ventilation and mitigate risk associated with airborne spread of disease.

So, is it safe to eat in restaurants? NoviSphere’s technology – current and in development – will help achieve these goals and enable diners and staff to work and linger in restaurants with confidence.

Eliminating pathogens is key

The NoviSphere PE 254 is the first step along the path to making it safe to eat in restaurants. The system combines germicidal 254nm ultraviolet light (UV-C) with proprietary baffling technology in a patented design that has been proven, through rigorous independent testing, to kill 99.99% of airborne viruses, germs and other pathogens, including the coronavirus. The fully sealed, low-maintenance unit can be safely installed in a variety of ways: hung on a wall or ceiling, mounted to a cart and positioned where needed, or inserted directly into an HVAC system. Running 24/7, each unit delivers uninterrupted pathogen eradication for rooms up to 13,000 cubic feet in volume. Installing multiple units will help ensure that all areas within a restaurant – dining room, bar, kitchen – are fully protected, providing occupants with clean, breathable air.

Looking ahead, later this year NoviSphere will announce technology ideally suited for building into new restaurants and other structures, allowing architects to implement rarified environments in their designs. As with the NoviSphere PE 254, these solutions will be customizable to desired specifications and manufactured using best-in-class materials and components, assuring the highest level of quality at optimal cost. We look forward to sharing the details with you in the fourth quarter of 2021. In the meantime, stay tuned for continued successes.

Green Bay Airport, Novisphere, Partner for Safe Travel

Airways Magazine | March 31, 2021

Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport (GRB) has installed three NoviSphere pathogen eradication systems to render safe travel.

Read the full article here.

Green Bay airport in US installs NoviSphere’s pathogen eradication units

Airport Magazine | March 25, 2021

Rarified-environment solutions developer NoviSphere has deployed its three pathogen eradication units at Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport (GRB) in the US. The NoviSphere PE 254 pathogen eradication systems support the airport’s new-level-of-clean initiative.

Read the full article.

New air purification technology keeps travelers safe at Austin Straubel International Airport

We Are Green Bay | March 24, 2021

Travelers using Green Bay’s Austin Straubel Airport are now experiencing a new level of clean. As Kris Schuller reports, the airport is the first in the nation to install new state-of-the-art air purification technology. Within the airport terminal at Austin Straubel – new technology has been put in place.

Read the full article here.

Retired astronaut visits local homeschooled students

NBC 26 | March 24, 2021

Some local home-schooled students got to meet with a former astronaut Wednesday. Retired astronaut, Paul Lockhart, who flew on two space shuttle missions, met with home school students at the Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport to discuss his experiences.

Read the full article here.

COVID airport safety

Travel with Trust

By NoviSphere™ Staff

After being tethered to our multipurpose home/school/work environments for the past year, most of us dream of leaving our houses and getting on a plane to go somewhere…anywhere. But the reality is that the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the travel industry.

Figures released by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) indicate that international tourist arrivals in 2020 decreased by 74 percent, or about 1 billion in total, over the prior year, bringing the industry back to levels not seen in more than 30 years. This decline, and the associated loss of an estimated $1.3 trillion in export revenue, made 2020 the worst year in tourism history. Moreover, experts don’t see travel returning to pre-pandemic levels before 2023.

Airports need better air quality

Citing a Harvard University study, the Washington Post recently noted: “Airports have taken significant steps to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, but challenges remain, including upgrading and enhancing ventilation systems… Unlike airplanes, which are equipped with sophisticated air filtration systems, most airport systems are not. The study recommended that airports work with qualified HVAC engineers to determine how they can augment current systems, particularly in areas where travelers tend to congregate.”

Implementing such measures is vital to impeding airborne transmission of respiratory viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), viral particles of which spread between people more readily indoors than outdoors. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the primary circumstances in which airborne transmission can occur include:

  • Enclosed spaces
  • Prolonged exposure to respiratory particles
  • Inadequate ventilation or air handling

Airports can represent a “perfect storm” for these conditions. The airline industry has made great strides in protecting passenger and staff safety, particularly in areas that typically require extended close contact – at ticket counters, in security lines, at baggage claim. Despite these efforts, and the growing availability of vaccines, the prospect of stepping into an airport remains daunting for some would-be travelers.

Making airports safe again

Our compact NoviSphere™ PE 254 pathogen eradicator is a highly effective solution to this challenge. The system can be installed into an HVAC system, hung on a wall or ceiling, or mounted on a cart and moved from one area to another, making it ideally suited for use in various areas within an airport terminal. The system pulls in room air and exposes it to germicidal (254nm) ultraviolet, or UV-C, light arrays sealed inside the unit for the optimal length of time to destroy any pathogens. The system changes room air multiple times per hour, 24/7, so travelers can feel confident that the air they’re breathing is clean and pathogen-free.

UV-C light has long been used in hospitals and other healthcare settings to neutralize pathogens, but using UV-C light safely in highly trafficked indoor areas has been challenging. The NoviSphere PE 254 not only is completely safe, but it has been proven through independent testing conducted at the University of Minnesota to kill 99.99% of germs, bacteria and viruses, including coronaviruses.

The PE 254 system is just the first step. NoviSphere is poised to be the only provider of comprehensive, high-quality, turnkey solutions and services that deliver clean, pure and rarified air environments to people wherever they live work, play – or travel. We look forward to helping passengers once again take to the skies with confidence and trust.

Going Back to School: Breathe Easy

By NoviSphere™ Staff

Multitasking is not a new concept to parents or guardians of school-aged kids. Integrating work and home responsibilities with school and extracurricular pursuits has always been a balancing act. But when the COVID-19 pandemic made homeschooling a mandate, parent multitasking was pushed to previously unimagined levels. In many states, students have now been distance-learning for nearly a year, remotely attending not only school, but also activities from music lessons to scout meetings, creating social and emotional challenges for children and their families.

After nearly a year of virtual schooling, the question on everyone’s mind is: What is going to make it safe to reopen schools and keep them open?

Vaccines are now rolling out, and while educators await their turn to receive them, it’s vital to look at the bigger picture. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued guidelines for reopening schools in an effort to restore some normalcy to our daily lives. The good news is that in-person schooling has not been linked to substantial transmission within communities. The science indicates that transmission rates inside schools are no higher when mitigation steps are implemented.

However, the science also shows that coronaviruses are spread not only through contact with infected surfaces but also via aerosol droplets containing microscopic particles, which linger in the air. This was confirmed via multiple studies, including work done at the University of Minnesota (see our prior post here). Yet, as the New York Times noted on Feb. 17, “It was only in July that the World Health Organization conceded that the virus can linger in the air in crowded indoor spaces, after 239 experts publicly called on the organization to do so.”

A Feb. 18 Washington Post article concurred: “…Many experts say good ventilation is key to controlling a virus known to be airborne. The CDC guidance underplays the importance of ventilation while overemphasizing cleaning in schools, even though surface transmission is no longer thought to significantly contribute to spread, two researchers argued in a recent Washington Post column. ‘Shared air is the problem, not shared surfaces,’ wrote Joseph G. Allen of Harvard University and Helen Jenkins of Boston University.”

And, according to a tweet by Richard Corsi, Portland State University’s dean of engineering and computer science, an expert on indoor air quality (as cited Feb. 17 in Education Week), “Ventilation is given lip service with little guidance. Incredibly disappointing. The lack of understanding of ventilation or its importance (or perhaps just disregard) is wholly obvious.”

The consensus: preventing the spread of infectious airborne pathogens that cause coronaviruses and other diseases is vital to safe occupation of schoolground buildings. This is what our NoviSphere™ PE 254 pathogen eradicator was specifically developed to achieve. Room air is pulled in and cycled through the system, using our proprietary baffling technology to expose pathogens to germicidal UV-C light for the optimal length of time, so that they are completely inactivated – the U of M testing confirmed that the PE 254 kills 99.99% of germs, bacteria and viruses, including coronavirus.

There is no danger of exposure to students or staff, as the UV-C arrays are fully contained within the unit, which can be installed into an HVAC system, hung on a wall or ceiling, or mounted to a cart and moved from room to room. This flexibility makes the NoviSphere PE 254 suitable for use in all occupied indoor school environments, from classrooms and libraries to gyms and cafeterias. And, as it operates continuously to change room air multiple times per hour, the system delivers a constant supply of clean, virus-free breathable air.

At NoviSphere, we believe in the power of our technology to improve the safety and quality of life. As parents ourselves, we understand the pressure that parents and schools are under to help kids continue to learn and grow in the midst of this unprecedented situation. And we look forward to helping education go “back to normal” as soon as possible.

science behind eradication of coronavirus

More than Just Air Purification

The Science Behind Eradication of Coronavirus and Other Pathogens

By NoviSphere™ Staff

In early 2020, our NoviSphere PE 254 pathogen-eradication system was already well into development, with an intended spring launch. Then, the deadly COVID-19 pandemic hit, and we knew that bringing the product to market would not be truly viable unless we ensured that the technology could kill coronaviruses. To this end, we engaged with experts in pathogens and aerosol science from the University of Minnesota to test the unit’s efficacy against a COVID-19 surrogate strain.

The university team’s findings were written up in an article that is currently available for review and feedback by readers of Environmental Science & Technology. Published by the American Chemical Society, Environmental Science & Technology is a highly selective journal and only a small fraction of the papers submitted to it successfully complete the peer-review process and are published. The article is slated for publication in an upcoming issue of that journal, highlighting both the importance of the results and the quality of the experiments performed.

Summarized in this post are highlights from the article – most notably, the researchers finding that the prototype NoviSphere unit was 99.99% effective in eradicating a wide range of pathogens, including coronavirus.

The introduction explains that SARS-CoV-2, the strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19, can be spread via both direct aerosol (inhalation of airborne particles) and indirect aerosol (touching of infected surfaces) routes. As coronaviruses can remain present in an aerosol at room temperatures for some length of time, the need exists for technologies that can directly mitigate an infectious virus surviving in an aerosol. Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation at wavelengths of 100-280nm (UV-C light) has been known for more than 80 years as being effective at preventing transmission of airborne diseases, and thus holds promise for eliminating coronaviruses.

Subsequent testing of a prototype ducted UV-C system built by NoviSphere was conducted to confirm this capability. The University of Minnesota researchers used porcine respiratory coronavirus (PRCV, an alpha coronavirus) as a surrogate for SARS-CoV-2, together with a monochromatic 254nm UV-C light and a custom wind tunnel constructed specifically for this purpose. As the authors note, “…[T]here is clearly increased importance in establishing proven technologies for airborne coronavirus removal and inactivation applicable to large volumes of air, or at flow rates higher than traditional bench scale experiments.”

The article next describes in-depth the research methodology, including all materials, measurement and data analysis steps pursued. Following this section, the authors describe their results. Of particular interest is the sub-section on virus removal and inactivation. They explain that PRCV was chosen as a coronavirus surrogate for this research effort since it requires biosafety level (BSL) class II facilities for experimentation (the University of Minnesota Veterinary Isolation Facility in St. Paul is BSL class II certified), and the researchers were able to propagate the PRCV to the high volumes needed to conduct the experiments.

The full study provides details regarding the system’s performance in efficiently inactivating aerosol coronaviruses. The bottom line is that researchers found that zero viable virus particulate survived passing through the prototype NoviSphere PE-254 unit, thus validating the unit as 99.99% effective.

Interested in learning more? Register to download the full study here.

pathogen elimination system

NoviSphere in the New Year

Pathogen eradication for 2021 and beyond

By Paul Lockhart, CEO

2021: the year the world is expecting advanced technology, innovations, vaccines, and personal and social hygiene to overcome the pandemic challenge of 2020. Exactly one year ago, our team had been hard at work for several months developing a roadmap for what was to become NoviSphere – a company well positioned to provide complete rarified environments, battle viral and bacterial pathogens, deliver pure air for any occupied space, and, ultimately, to meet the coronavirus challenge. We’re ready for NoviSphere to be a part of the global community’s solution to COVID-19.

When the pandemic appeared as a minor news article in January 2020, our NoviSphere team was completing our pathogen-eradication system: a germicidal 254nm ultraviolet (UV-C) light system combined with proprietary technology that optimally exposes airborne contaminants to the UV-C light to ensure their destruction. UV-C light is a proven technology that has been recommended by the CDC as a method to reduce the likelihood of transmission of COVID-19. And, unlike other technologies, this “direct kill” approach completely eliminates the pathogens.

By February, when COVID-19 became the dominant news topic, we knew dedicated, objective testing of our NoviSphere PE-254 was necessary to gain the public’s trust. After all, COVID-19 was proven to be elusive and deadly; therefore, we went where experts in pathogens and aerosol science can do their best work – the University of Minnesota. In a highly regulated and advanced laboratory, U of M researchers tested our PE-254 prototype against a COVID-19 surrogate strain. Their results confirmed that NO live viruses were found in air exiting the NoviSphere PE-254, validating the unit as being 99.99% effective.

With this knowledge and the U of M test results under our belt, we launched NoviSphere and our PE 254 air-purification system in November 2020. We truly believe it is the best, most thorough pathogen-elimination offering on the market, and we are seeing heightened interest from companies and organizations around the world. We are excitedly setting goals for 2021 to bring a suite of new clean air innovations to public and private workspaces. Here are some examples:

  • First and foremost, we are excited about the opportunities our pathogen-eradication system presents to help get life back to normal in many different environments, such as healthcare facilities, schools, retail settings, restaurants, and sports venues, just to name a few. We designed the unit specifically to make UV-C technology safe for use in high-traffic areas.
  • We look forward to engaging with customers to install the NoviSphere PE 254 in these spaces so that workers and visitors can know they are constantly breathing clean, fresh air. We will be expanding on these and other sites that can benefit from the technology in future posts; for example, recently we took a look at shopping malls.
  • We are also focused on an ongoing educational effort. With the development and deployment of vaccines, there is much to be optimistic about regarding eventually curtailing the COVID-19 virus. However, the consensus is that more global pandemics are a virtual certainty, and we are committed to helping preclude the spread of future viruses and airborne illnesses. Another of our key goals, therefore, is to build awareness that maintaining clean indoor air is of vital importance – not just today but going forward.

Later this year, we plan to introduce our next product. Our COO Joe Cestari, in a prior post, provided his insights and a preview of our dynamic plans. Currently in development, our next offering will allow us to make significant inroads to improving global health and safety by providing rarified environments for all spaces where people live and work. This larger vision is what fuels and motivates our team – our collective experience has given us a new perspective into the importance of having access to clean, pure air 24/7. We are excited to have the means and opportunity to make this a reality so that you can breathe easy and stay safe, no matter where you are.