The Johns Hopkins Gazette: April 14, 2003
April 14, 2003
VOL. 32, NO. 30


APL Licenses 'Safe Buildings' System to Neutralize Biological Threats

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

A system developed by APL to destroy airborne biological agents as they move through a building's heating and air conditioning ducts has been licensed to the Bio-Defense Research Group in Upper Marlboro, Md., for production.

The new pathogen neutralization technology, which destroys pathogens as they pass through a building's ventilation system, has passed proof-of-concept tests that involved retrofitting the system into existing heating/ventilation/air conditioning systems. The system works without any special filtering that might impede airflow.

"We have shown excellent neutralization of simulants for bacteria, viruses and spores," said project manager Richard S. Potember of APL's Research and Technology Development Center. "Current testing involves seeing how the technology functions in full-size commercial HVAC systems, and the results are good. We're seeing that the technology can be easily scaled up to handle real-world environments," Potember said.

The Bio-Defense Research Group will now take the research from APL's prototype stage and scale it up to a system that works as effectively in commercial-size buildings. Prime candidates are hospitals, where it could knock out staph and other infections, "sick" buildings, cruise ships, airplanes and other vulnerable settings.

"What we have is a technology that could save billions of dollars and thousands of lives every year," said Preston McGee, chief executive officer of Bio-Defense Research Group. "We've taken technology that originated at APL and developed Path-Away, a system that will provide unprecedented protection against bioterrorism as well as the threat of infectious diseases faced by anyone who enters a hospital."

BDRGI develops and markets systems to protect individuals, facilities and modes of transportation from airborne pathogens that result from natural causes or bioterrorist attack.

While BDRGI is adapting the technology to commercial-size buildings, APL will continue its work to make the system even more efficient, Potember said.