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Early tests suggest new Canadian technology could detect the coronavirus in the air

A Canadian company says it has developed a wall-mounted device that detects the presence of the novel coronavirus in the air and triggers an alert system to warn of the detection.

Kontrol Energy developed the product at its office in London, Ont. and had it tested by two independent labs

A new technology developed by Canada's Kontrol Energy Corporation detects the presence of the novel coronavirus in the air and activates an alert to facility managers. (Submitted by Kontrol Energy Corporation)

A Canadian company says it has developed a wall-mounted device that detects the presence of the novel coronavirus in the air and triggers an alert system to warn of the detection. One scientist who has reviewed the product suggests it works. 

Kontrol Energy of Vaughan created the technology, known as BioCloud, at its office in London, Ont., and the company's CEO, Paul Ghezzi, said he's working to have it installed in schools by November.

Ghezzi says it can also be used by mass transit systems.

"So aircraft, where perhaps air is being recycled every 15 minutes, buses, subways and anywhere crowds gather in tight spaces for prolonged periods of time."

Ghezzi calls it a game-changer in the fight against COVID-19, especially in classrooms, where it's important to detect the virus as quickly as possible.

"When we look at the entire ecosystem of how do we survive this pandemic, having this safe space technology allows us to identify the virus more quickly, allows us to contact trace more quickly. Perhaps we can close down the classroom, as opposed to an entire school." 

Independently tested

The company has been working on the technology at its London office since March and arranged for testing at two independent labs that are part of Western University, Ghezzi said.

One of the testers was Dr. David Heinrichs, a professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Western.

"There's no doubt in my mind that this technology can quickly and effectively detect an array of airborne pathogens, including the virus that causes COVID-19. Our results are absolutely conclusive," said Heinrichs.

Kontrol Energy hopes to produce as many as 20,000 BioCloud units per month at a cost of $12,000 U.S., though Ghezzi said discounts would be offered on large orders.

The detection chamber is replaceable after it comes into contact with the coronavirus and can be replaced for continuous use, the company said in a news release.

There are no immediate plans for developing a unit that would work in the home. Ghezzi said the company has considered the concept of a breathalyzer that would detect the coronavirus, but it would require a longer development cycle and the approval by Health Canada.

Ghezzi said, for now, the primary focus of the company is to sell its technology to schools, hospitals and mass transportation systems.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gary Ennett

Morning News Editor

Gary Ennett is a veteran editor and reporter. He’s been with CBC since the opening of the London bureau in 1998. His email address is gary.ennett@cbc.ca

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