The startup BioLambda, specialized in the therapeutic and germicidal use of light, developed a line of equipment that emits ultraviolet C radiation (UVC) in order to promote the decontamination of masks, objects, surfaces and environments. According to Caetano Sabino, founder and CEO of BioLambda, these resources can contribute to reducing the risk of contamination by microorganisms, including the new coronavirus, which causes Covid-19. The startup is supported by the Fapesp Innovative Research in Small Business Program (PIPE).
One of the devices, UVmask, was developed exclusively for decontamination of N95 protective masks or fabric and allows the disinfection of four masks in five minutes. BioLambda also makes available the manual version of the equipment, called UVsurface, for the decontamination of objects such as telephones, keyboards, money, door handles, correspondence, supermarket purchases and other objects.
To disinfect environments, the company created the UVair, consisting of a polished reflective stainless steel chamber, with three lamps inside and an exhaust fan. Through the system, air is sucked in, passes through a filter, enters the chamber with a very high UV intensity and exits from the side below, already decontaminated, as described by Sabino.
To guarantee the microbicidal effectiveness of the equipment, the company uses two main parameters: the optical power for the area being affected, that is, the irradiance; and the exposure time with this irradiance, which is the UV dose. Sabino explains that the equipment uses UVC of 253.7 nm (nanometers), peak of UVC emission that promises to guarantee the greatest microbicidal efficacy, either against bacteria and parasites, or against viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2.
The microbicidal effect occurs because the constituent bases of DNA and RNA absorb light in the UVC range. This effect produces a photoaddition reaction with nearby molecules, generating photoproducts that distort the structure of DNA or RNA and inhibit the functions of this genetic material. Thus, the lamps of BioLambda equipment have an emission spectrum at the maximum absorption of genetic material, which makes the efficiency high.
BioLambda, Cepid Redoxoma and the Padre Anchieta Teaching Hospital, in São Bernardo do Campo (SP), developed the intelligent equipment for the application of phototherapy in the treatment of localized infections, including for the treatment of diabetic foot. The startup also produces equipment for irradiation of both in vitro cells and animal models and for clinical studies.
The IoP Journal spoke with Caetano Sabino, founder of BioLambda, to understand what kind of light the startup can offer to end this pandemic’s tunnel:
IoP Journal – Is this BioLambda technology capable of eliminating coronavirus from packaging and environments?
Caetano Sabino – UVC light is proven to be effective against the new coronavirus in addition to countless other pathogens, such as bacteria, fungi and parasites. However, for each type of application, the ideal is to have a specific and optimized equipment for use. For indoor environments, we have the line of UVair equipment that continuously disinfects the air. For packaging, we have the UVsurface equipment, which is a small-scale system for disinfecting various surfaces.
IoP Journal – What equipment is emitting ultraviolet C (UVC) radiation in use?
Caetano Sabino – Currently, we have three lines of equipment that use UVC radiation to disinfect air, surfaces and respiratory protection masks. For air and surface disinfection we have the UVair and UVsurface equipment lines that we mentioned earlier. For mask disinfection, we developed, patented and validated the UVmask equipment, which can eliminate more than 99.999% of pathogens from four masks in five minutes. This system has a unique design that allows the masks to be automatically rotated in front of a UVC lamp of very high power. In this way, we guarantee that there are no shadow regions for UVC radiation on the masks. We are still developing a new technology for disinfecting industrial conveyor belts for products transport in partnership with BRF S.A., which is currently the largest exporter of chicken products in the world.
BioLambda logo and equipment
IoP Journal – What is the cost to enable such a solution in an 800 square meter supermarket, for example?
Caetano Sabino – The UVair 500 equipment is capable of disinfecting more than 500 thousand liters of air per hour. Each unit of this equipment is sufficient to cover an area of up to 150 square meters, that is, 6 pieces of equipment would be needed for the entire store, totaling a cost of approximately R $ 100 thousand.
IoP Journal – How long does the machine take to clear a space or X number of products?
Caetano Sabino – This calculation will depend directly on the dimensions of the space or the surface of the products. For packaging a piece of chicken breast, for example, it would take about 10 seconds to disinfect it on both sides with BioLambda’s UVsurface.
IoP Journal – Is energy consumption too large?
Caetano Sabino – It is very interesting that UVC lamps have an energy efficiency similar to that of LEDs, which is very high (30% to convert electricity into light). Therefore, the equipment has a low energy consumption and is economical and sustainable.
IoP Journal – How does UVair work?
Caetano Sabino – The UVair has an internal exhaust fan that pulls the air into the equipment through a filter. The interior of the equipment is made of polished stainless steel and is equipped with a plurality of UVC lamps of the highest power density available on the world market. In this way, the air inside the equipment is exposed to a very high intensity of UVC radiation, being disinfected in just two seconds to be returned to the environment. Therefore, the UVair is continuously recirculating the ambient air to drastically reduce the risk of infection by air.
IoP Journal – What time of exposure is needed to clean objects?
Caetano Sabino – With BioLambda’s UVsurface equipment, it is necessary to expose the surfaces for about two seconds at a distance of less than one centimeter to guarantee more than 99% elimination of the new coronavirus. Therefore, this is an extremely efficient method, which does not use consumables and leaves no chemical residues.
IoP Journal – Has the equipment been tested and certified by an institution?
Caetano Sabino – The UVmask equipment has already been validated by the Energy and Nuclear Research Institute (IPEN), BRF S.A. and MSA do Brasil. We have already requested the registration of the equipment with Anvisa [National Health Surveillance Agency], but we are still waiting for a definitive answer. The UVsurface equipment was validated by the Institute of Biomedical Sciences of the University of São Paulo and by the São Leopoldo Mandic Dentistry Faculty. UVair equipment is also being tested by São Leopoldo Mandic.
IoP Journal – Are there health risks? Which are?
Caetano Sabino – Because it acts directly on DNA and RNA molecules, UVC light is efficient against any microorganisms. However, this also makes it toxic to human and animal cells. Deleterious effects ranging from irritation and burns, blindness and even cancer. Therefore, exposure of UVC light to the skin and eyes should always be avoided.
IoP Journal – What security procedures should be taken?
Caetano Sabino – Our equipment for disinfecting masks and air emit UVC light only inside hermetically sealed chambers. In this way, this equipment is completely safe for people in your vicinity. Along with UVsurface equipment, we provide goggles and protective gloves so that operators can safely use this high-power UVC light source.
IoP Journal – In which environments can this system not be used?
Caetano Sabino – As long as UVC light systems are implemented with engineering elements that value the safety of users, there are no contraindications for their use.
IoP Journal – Could it be used in airplanes, for example? Or in other closed environments, with restricted air circulation?
Caetano Sabino – Equipment that uses UVC light to disinfect air, such as BioLambda’s UVair, was developed exactly for this functionality. As our system keeps all UVC light confined within a chamber, it can be used in any indoor environment, such as means of transport and rooms, without posing a risk to people.
IoP Journal – How to make safe the operation, for example, of a gym? Remembering that it has ambient air, but also equipment in use.
Caetano Sabino – The ideal is to use a set of solutions. To disinfect the air, air recirculation systems with filters and UVC light are required. For surfaces such as gym equipment, equipment such as UVsurface should be used periodically and after each person comes into direct contact. In this way, the main routes of infection by the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) are eliminated. In addition, everyone in the gym must wear new or frequently disinfected masks.
IoP Journal – Is the patent registered?
Caetano Sabino – The patent for the UVmask system has already been filed with the INPI. The other equipment has not yet had its patents filed.
IoP Journal – Is BioLambda interested in going public, as in an IPO? [IOP or Initial Public Offering. In Portuguese, Initial Public Offering, for IPO]
Caetano Sabino – Little is known about this future. However, going public on an IPO is a real possibility for BioLambda. We are also negotiating partial or total mergers with major Brazilian and foreign companies.