With social distancing measures safely in place, sharing a ride with anyone who is not part of our household is discouraged. Yet, there’s still a way for the dreaded virus to get into our cars, such as through our clothing or grocery items. Thus, there’s still a need to disinfect vehicles periodically.
Luckily, disinfecting technologies are being developed around the world by car manufacturers. These include UV light exposure, disinfectant fogger sprays, anti-microbial solutions, and advanced filtration car parts. Soon, vehicles will come fitted with these new disinfecting technologies to ensure that car cabins remain COVID-free.
Using UV Light
According to research findings, exposing any space to a consistent beam of far-UVC light can kill airborne viruses like the flu without causing damage to human beings. This light is often used at high-risk public spaces such as airports and hospitals where the risk of infection is higher, proving especially useful during flu epidemics.
Now, car companies around the world are exploring technologies to ensure that vehicles remain safe from the virus. Hyundai Motor Group is experimenting with UV cabin light sterilisation to automatically disinfect car cabins.
Since direct exposure to UV rays is harmful to humans, Hyundai is considering a mechanism that would automatically engage and disinfect the vehicle when no one is inside. It's possible to install the device on the car's roof so that all the cabin car parts are sterilised. However, the light would still not be able to reach some cabin car parts due to its fixed position, requiring you to disinfect the vehicle manually.
Hyundai has invested in making cars more sterile in the past as well. The company has been using anti-bacterial paint in the interior to prevent microbial build-up, ensuring its customers that they can safely touch the handles, mats, and pillar trims. The carmaker also uses cardanol oil sourced from cashew nuts in its seat foam, making them more hygienic. The seat covers have also been made washable, with zippers and Velcro connectors that allow users to take them off quickly.
Jaguar Land Rover
Other companies exploring UV-based anti-microbial technologies at this time include Jaguar Land Rover. The carmaker is considering integrated UV-C technology to disinfect the cabins of its vehicles. The technology uses wavelengths between 200-280 nanometers to effectively kill pathogens. If installed into the car's AC system, UV-C can neutralise viruses and seamlessly clean up the cabin air.
Yanfeng is exploring similar UV-C disinfecting technology as well, such as UVC lamps in the interior to sanitise vehicles. Also, the company stated that it would look towards improving the disinfecting capabilities of its HVAC air filtration system as well to improve cabin air quality holistically.
GHSP, a tech firm based in Michigan, US, has already launched a UV-C based product called grenlite. This programmable product is capable of detecting when a car has been recently used. As soon as passengers step out, it automatically conducts a thorough UV-C treatment of the cabin car parts.
Although UV-based technological solutions are promising, they are unable to reach all corners of a car’s interior. That is why some companies are exploring other disinfecting technologies.
For example, the French automotive supplier Faurecia is evaluating the effectiveness of using disinfecting foggers inside vehicles to provide a short-term solution. The company is also exploring UV-based technologies that could be used to improve health safety in the cabin.
The Canadian automotive mobility technology manufacturer Magna International is studying an ozone-based sanitisation mechanism. As ozone technology involves the use of gas, it would have the ability to kill pathogens in hard-to-reach areas and crevices of the car's cabin.
For the cabin air-filter-supplying company Freudenberg, the focus seems to be on improving the filtration efficiency of car air filters. The company recommends cabin filtration systems that can filter particles as small as 0.05 microns. At this time, the majority of cars around the world and in Australia, have cabin air filters that can only block particles as small as one micron. The company is testing filters to assess their effectiveness against virus particles.
Geely, a Chinese company, was able to develop its G-Clean Intelligent Air Purification System, or IAPS, in just 20 days as a response to COVID. This new filtration system was unveiled as part of its electric Icon Crossover SUV. The advanced system uses an innovative active carbon chemical filter to get rid of dangerous pollutants from the cabin air, while a negative-ion generator is used to sterilise the air up to the N95-certified respiration level, getting rid of any harmful airborne viruses and bacteria, including COVID-19.
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By Muhammad A. Lashari