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An Israel-UK collaboration in the development of a revolutionary technology for coping with the coronavirus. An innovative air filter that captures and destroys coronavirus particles has been developed by Cambridge and Israel scientists. The system will provide an additional tool to protect people against COVID-19. 

The revolutionary new carbon-based material captures and destroys an animal coronavirus, a close relative of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. 

The team of scientists and engineers from Cambridge, UK, and Tortech, Israel, have developed the Active Virus Filter in the form of a thin carbon nanotube mat (TorStran), that has the filtration properties which allow it to capture free virus molecules and those contained in airborne aerosolized droplets. 

Both filtration and virus disruption take place at the same time allowing the filter to reduce the risk of infection by removing contamination from the air. It could be particularly useful in confined situations such as emergency vehicles, hospitals, transportation, waiting areas and wards. The innovation could help with shortages of personal protective equipment due to the pandemic.

In Israel, development and manufacturing efforts are being led by Dr. Shuki Yeshurun (CEO) and Meir Hefetz, Tortech (CTO). “We are throwing our full resources behind the project and we are meeting the initial challenges of achieving the correct properties in order to move on to the final virus-free air system.” 

Dr. Shuki Yeshurun, Joint CEO of Q-Flo and Tortech sums up progress and points the way to the future deployment of this potentially life-saving product: “Our teams in Israel and the UK, including colleagues at Cambridge University, have worked flat out over the past few weeks to demonstrate the effectiveness of the TorStran Active Virus Filter in catching and ‘killing’ the virus. We are looking for partners who can work with us and move at speed to bring Active Virus Filter units into service.” 

According to the press release, research at the University of Cambridge involved the Department of Engineering, the Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy and the Department of Pathology. 

In the UK, the project team is led by Q-Flo who are delivering a broad Innovate UK-funded grant. Rapid response from Q-Flo and Innovate UK allowed some funds to be switched to this project and have resulted in proof of principle being achieved within a remarkably short time. “Our challenge now is to turn our membrane (TorStran) into an effective Active Virus Filter Module,” said Martin Pick, COO of Q-Flo. 

Q-Flo Limited and Tortech Nano Fibers Ltd are both members of the Plasan Sasa Group.