Zeta Airon was set up by researchers in the life sciences to carry out independent research in the field of applied biotechnology and technology transfer.
We have supported several projects in collaboration with universities, research institutes and private companies, focusing on the development of innovative photobioreactors, in the belief that the interaction between light and living beings can still offer a wide range of opportunities for sustainable and problem-solving technologies!
Everything that is useful for the optimisation of the interaction between the biological entity under study and the light radiation is of utmost importance to us.Therefore, in addition to experimental biological research, we study and test innovative materials and the most appropriate geometries to deliver the radiation to the targets. The result? Photoreactors that do new things or do better than existing ones!
A patented system ( Italian patent n. 102020000016906 ) that enables the integration of UV inactivation technology into wearable respiratory protection devices - the weak link in the biodefence.
A desulphurisation system that we are currently perfecting in order to obtain hydrogen, an active ingredient and soil improver, from hydrogen sulphide in the liquid or gaseous phase by means of solar energy.
The sun is the oldest known weapon against infectious diseases, prescribed by Hippocrates against tuberculosis, and still used during the Spanish flu pandemic. It is also the most natural form of resistance, because it does not rule out contact with the pathogens, but only with the virulent form of them.
Pathogens are most susceptible to UV radiation when they are, in sub-micron aerosol particles, where shielding, shading and skattering phenomena are minimal.This is why UV radiation is most effective on particles that are the easiest to pass through the filters (Most Penetrating Particles).
Photodamage occurs in a few picoseconds: inactivation rates of 100% can therefore be achieved instantaneously, if the dose of photons administered is sufficient to reach all targets.These characteristics make UV radiation a powerful ally for increasing the level of protection of the current respirators, but this potential has never been exploited to date, despite the pandemic.
The main obstacle is that wearable solutions capable of inactivating pathogens in times compatible with human breathing rhythms are not possible with the current state of technology.To solve this problem, we have developed an innovative UV reactor: HEUVIS
HEUVIS (High Efficient UV Inactivation System) is a UV reactor we have developed over two years of research.It has been tested in collaboration with the CNR's Photonic Laboratory under the Horizon 2020 ACT-PHAST grant.The reactor has more than 100 times the inactivation capacity of a conventional unit with equal power consumption.
This has been achieved through the use of special DUV LED and a patented inactivation chamber that works like a trap in which the photons, instead of dispersing, are forced to pass through the airflow space many times, changing direction and angle
The multidirectionality of UV radiation was found to be very important in ensuring that all pathogens in the aerosol particles are reached by the photons, (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jqsrt.2020.107489107489 ). This is also a prerequisite for correctly quantifying the minimum dose required for inactivation (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaerosci.2022.106003 ).
Thanks to its characteristics, the reactor can be integrated into conventional respirators to increase the level of protection and the comfort of breathing, and to allow a wider range of applications. In fact, the variants designed for this purpose process the flow of air that enters or leaves the body during the breathing process, inactivating immediately the pathogens that are not retained by the basic filter and reducing the flow resistance of the filter itself.Bench models of this reactor also make it possible to quantify the specific doses that inactivate the pathogens with much greater precision.
As shown in the short video below the laboratory version of HEUVIS treating 250ml of air , provides similar irradiation to all parts of the tester moved along the air path in the inactivation chamber.
Inactivation efficiency more one hundred times higher than with the same power of a conventional device.
The wavelength used (265 nm) does not generate ozone, so there is no increase in this gas during reactor operation
Because of the way it works, UV radiation achieves maximum inactivation on particles that, due to their small size, can carry few pathogens and easily pass through filters, hence the name "most penetrating particles" (MPP)
The reactor can provide enough dose to neutralise all airborne viruses and bacteria including SARS, MERS, Influenza viruses, Newcastle Disease, Hantavirus, Enterovirus, Rhinovirus, Rubella, Measles, Variola etc. Klebsiella, Legionella, Myc. tubercolosis, etc...
Hydrogen sulphide is a very toxic and corrosive compound that is produced in many industrial processes and is also found in abundance in some natural contexts.In many cases it is mandatory not to release the substance into the environment, so there are various abatement methods.However, there are no industrial methods of exploiting its reducing power, and it is usually oxidised to make it more manageable as waste. In nature, there are photosynthetic bacteria that use it as an electron donor, producing a biomass rich in elemental sulphur and vitamin K2 and, in particular situations, releasing hydrogen.These organisms live in extreme habitats, where there is no oxygen and the light that does reach them is scarce and of wavelengths in the red and infrared range. So far, there has been little research on these organisms and the experiments that have been reported have been under artificial lighting.We researched the best way to expose them to natural light without significantly altering pigment composition or causing UV photodamage.Preliminary results show that the production of vitamin K2 using these bacteria could be very attractive. It is cheaper and has a lower environmental impact than the method currently used (fermentation of soya beans).This alternative production technology can therefore be very convenient. Even if it is not linked to desulphurisation and is carried out with a hybrid system (natural light / LED).On the other hand, producing hydrogen from hydrogen sulphide using this biotechnology is advantageous if only solar energy is used. It is therefore suitable for locations with a long photoperiod and mild or warm climate.For these reasons, the photobioreactor we are developing,VALFHYS (VALue From HYdrogen Sulfide) allows optimal exposure to natural light and can be supplemented with high-efficiency and wavelength-specific LEDs.