This device can disinfect the interior of an airplane – and kill coronavirus – in minutes

Technology

Ever since coronavirus concerns have taken over essentially every aspect of everyday live, airlines have been paying more attention to the process of cleaning planes.

Now, a company named Dimer is seeing increased interest in a device they conceived several years ago to battle the flu. Think drink cart, but when you run it down the aisle of an airplane, it disinfects the entire interior in minutes.

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I met up with the co-founder of the the company, a guy named Elliot Kreitenberg. He describes himself as an “international and intergalactic infection preventionist.” Along with his father, they created what they call the “Germ Falcon.”

What looks like one of those carts a flight attendant would push down the aisle to serve food and drinks is actually a powerful machine that can sanitize the inside of an aircraft using UV light.

“[At] 30 rows per minute, we can be on and off a 737 in less than five minutes,” explained Kreitenberg, who agreed to let me see the machine at his home in Orange County.

Dimer Co-Founder Elliot Kreitenberg with the Germ Falcon
Dimer Co-Founder Elliot Kreitenberg with the Germ Falcon

While airlines are now paying more attention to how they disinfect cabins, the process isn’t necessarily fast or easy. That’s where the Germ Falcon comes into play. The device uses a blast of UV light to kill viruses and bacteria on a variety of surfaces.

“Basically these UV-C light photons interrupt the DNA and deactivate them immediately, killing them… and a dead germ has never infected anybody,” said Kreitenberg.

To see a demo of the machine, I must first put on a protective shield on my face and covered any exposed skin on my hands and neck. The UV light could give you a nasty sunburn in seconds.

First, the wings on the Germ Falcon are extended. Then the machine is slowly pushed down the aisle so UV lights can bathe exposed surfaces with their germ killing magic to disinfect them.

What was originally envisioned as a device that would slowly move itself down the aisle is now manual. Turn out, it’s easier to have a human manipulate the machine. Kreitenberg promises me that the operator is protected from the damaging UV lights thanks to a thin shield of clear vinyl.

Kreitenberg believes the plane is left even cleaner than when using liquid disinfectants, which don’t hit all surfaces and must remain wet on surfaces for a certain amount of time for maximum effectiveness.

“So these UV-C lamps are proven in hospitals to be effective against the coronavirus, the dosages are published and we believe that we can reach those dosages easily,” explained Kreitenberg in light of the current COVID-19 situation.

While interest in the Germ Falcon is high, so far just one airport has started using technology from the company. Paine Field, just north of Seattle, is using a handheld sanitizing product from Daimer called the UV Hammer to disinfect passenger waiting areas.

It could be just a matter of time before the Germ Falcon takes off on a commercial fleet of aircraft.

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