Digital infrared thermometers, oxygen enrichment units developed to fight coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic

BMEK, a CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (NCL)'s incubate, has developed the infrared thermometer and its design is available open source with complete know-how of the hardware as well as the software design.

Digital infrared thermometers, oxygen enrichment units developed to fight coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic

New Delhi: Amid the rising cases of coronavirus in the country, different departments of the Ministry of Science and Technology have developed products like digital infrared thermometers and oxygen enrichment units for battling the pandemic, a statement said on Thursday.

BMEK, a CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (NCL)'s incubate, has developed the infrared thermometer and its design is available open source with complete know-how of the hardware as well as the software design. The NCL of the CSIR and Bharat Electronic Limited (BEL) will scale up the production of digital infrared thermometers, an important tool in battling coronavirus, it said.

"This is an effort to enable a large number of manufacturers to produce the thermometers and cater to their local demands. Now it is being scaled up in partnership with BEL (Bharat Electronics Ltd, Pune). "About 100 prototype units will be made for pilot distribution and testing at TUV Rheinland India Pvt Ltd Bangalore," a statement said.

The NCL is a laboratory under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) which comes under the Ministry of Science and Technology. The NCL and Genrich Membranes, a start-up innovation venture founded by Ulhas Kharul, the head of the Polymer Science and Engineering Division at NCL, have prepared an Oxygen Enrichment Unit (OEU).

The OEUs increase the oxygen concentration from the ambient air of 21-22 per cent to 38-40 per cent. It is a hollow fibre membrane bundles for separation and filtration of ambient air to produce enriched oxygen for patients in home and hospital settings.

"The prototype units are ready at Pune and will be sent to TUV Rheinland India Pvt Ltd Bangalore for testing/validation. About 10 OEU machines will be assembled by NCL BEL in Pune and after the trials, scale up will be done," it added.

Separately, scientists at the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) have designed and developed a highly efficient superabsorbent material for liquid respiratory and other body fluid solidification and disinfection for the safe management of infected respiratory secretions.

The SCTIMST is an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DST). Generally, in the ICU, the secretions are sucked by a machine into bottles or canisters, which have to be emptied when full, subjected to a decontamination process in a sluice room and discarded through the waste fluid disposal systems.

Apart from the re-contamination risk during the handling involved in these processes, there is a need for well-equipped sluice rooms with disinfection facilities, which can be an issue in less well-equipped hospitals or makeshift isolation wards during epidemics.

"The material titled Chitra Acrylosorb Secretion Solidification System', developed by Manju S and Manoj Komath of the department of Biomaterial Science and Technology of the Biomedical Technology wing of SCTIMST is a highly efficient superabsorbent material for liquid respiratory and other body fluid solidification and disinfection," a statement said.

AcryloSorb can absorb liquids at least 20 times more than its dry weight and also contains a decontaminant for in situ disinfection. The superabsorbent material can be effective in the safe management of infected respiratory secretions, the statement said.

In the developed system, suction canisters, disposable spit bags have been designed with "AcryloSorb" technology. They are lined inside with the AcryloSorb material. The AcryloSorb suction canisters collect the liquid respiratory secretions from ICU patients or those with copious secretions treated in the wards.

"Containers filled with this material will immobilise the contaminated fluid by solidifying it (gel-like), thus avoiding spillage and will also disinfect it. The canister containing the solidified waste canister can then be decomposed as all other biomedical waste by incineration," the statement added.

The containers are spill-proof and can be sealed after use, making it safe and fit for disposal through the usual incineration system for biomedical wastes. Sealable and disposable AcryloSorb spit bags are provided for solidifying the sputum and saliva of ambulant patients with respiratory infections, which can then be incinerated.

Disposal of infected secretions from patients poses a great challenge to every hospital. This is particularly so in the case of secretions of patients with highly contagious diseases such as COVID-19. The collection and disposal of such wastes put the nursing and cleaning staff at high risk.

This technology reduces the risk for the hospital staff, the need for personnel for disinfecting and cleaning the bottles and canisters for reusing them and makes the disposal safer and easier, it added.

Professor Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST, said, "Safe disposal of infected secretions from the patients in a variety of infectious conditions is of paramount significance. A super-absorbent gel with embedded disinfecting material is thus an attractive proposition for the safe collection, consolidation, and quarantine of secretions before their incineration."