Therma-Tron-X in Sturgeon Bay is working with Michigan Technological University to build mobile units that will clean COVID-19 Personal Protection Equipment. TTX is an industrial and heat processing equipment manufacturer that makes ovens and that concept is being used to generate heat in the units up to 170 degrees that is enough to kill the coronavirus. An engineering team from Michigan Tech tested a prototype unit called Mobile Thermal Utility (MTU) Sanitizer last week. Therma-Tron-X owner Brad Andrae along with his daughter Amy, a biomedical engineer by training and director of IT at TTX, and his son-in-law Dan Barnard, who co-invented the design, brainstormed up a plan. Andrae shares how the concept of the unit came about.
Dan’s cousin Andrew Barnard is a mechanical engineer and professor at Michigan Tech. He collaborated on the idea that could disinfect up to 60,000 PPE units or more per day. The CDC came down with new specifications last week to heat at 140 degrees at 80 percent relative humidity for 15 minutes in order to kill not only viruses but also staph infections on PPE like masks, gowns, and gurneys. Andrae says that TTX was then asked by Michigan Tech to build a modified version of the MTU Sanitizer.
The electrically-heated unit may require up to 90 minutes to reach temperatures to sanitize but can run on a simple 100 amp service or generator. TTX is covering the cost of making the unit at this point, not knowing yet how it will be funded, according to Andrae.
(photo courtesy of Michigan Technological University)