Several car companies are pitching in to help treat the effects of the coronavirus by producing masks and medical equipment that are vital to the treatment of infected patients, and now one automotive industry component supplier has come up with a portable device that may be able to kill the viruses on them, allowing for their safe reuse.
Magna International is working on a product called the Puro that uses ozone to eliminate odor-causing bacteria through oxidation, but may also be effective against viruses. The cooler-sized device was originally being developed to sanitize difficult to wash household items like sports equipment and toys, but can accommodate up to 50 of the N95 protective masks that are in short supply, or other equipment and clothing. The sealed container generates ozone that permeates the objects placed inside of it and then converts the gas back into safe, breathable oxygen before the end of a half-hour cycle.
Magna’s director of new technology and innovation, Scott Mitchell, said research has shown that this type of treatment can also kill viruses, including the H1N1 flu that caused a global pandemic in 2009, and that the company is moving quickly to have the Puro tested against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Mitchell said the company could have test results in Canada, where it is based, within a few weeks and is talking to labs in the U.S. for further evaluations. It's also having N95 masks tested to make sure they aren't damaged by the treatment. Once approved for this use, Mitchell said Magna has 50 to 70 Puros it's ready to donate and deploy to hospitals and other locations where they are needed, and can begin working toward mass-manufacturing them at its Canadian and U.S. facilities.
Mitchell estimates that the Puro currently costs 1,200 Canadian dollars ($840) per unit to make, but expects the price to come down to CA$600 ($420) by the time it's produced at volume. The technology can also be scaled up and down to accommodate different size containers for various requirements.
This story has been updated to clarify costs.