A "game-changing" air disinfection unit that would kill COVID-19 and prevent the spread of airborne disease in offices is being developed in Geelong.

A prototype of the unit which can be bolted into a building's office heating, cooling and ventilation systems is set to be sent to the CSIRO for analysis and testing.

Steve Atkinson from Scientific Investigations
Steve Atkinson from Scientific Investigations

The unit is being developed by the C6 Group in conjunction with Drysdale air quality expert Steve Atkinson, of Scientific Investigations, with the aim of going into production in Geelong's northern suburbs.

Mr Atkinson said the unit would have applications beyond COVID-19, arguing it was designed to knock out all viral bacterial and fungal particles, including "the next thing".

"People in Australia have been lucky because we missed SARS, we missed bird flu, we missed swine flu, we missed MERS," Mr Atkinson said.

He said the air disinfection unit was about getting Australia back to work.

"If you can increase the ventilation and get enough fresh air coming through, you reduce the viral load inside of the building to the point where people don't transmit it," he said.

Mr Atkinson said using the units in existing ventilation systems would not stop transmission from direct contact with an infectious person but it would stop super spreader events "where it goes right through the building or from hotel room to hotel room".

He said three technologies were used to achieve the results, with the package including built-in solutions to the known challenges of each stage.

The first line of attack is a fine filter akin to a high-grade N95 P2 mask with the system addressing the issue of handling the extra load on conventional heating, ventilation and cooling systems.

The second is UV light, a proven killer of viral bacterial and fungal particles, with the system designed to monitor the energy-dose relationship so the most appropriate dose of UV is applied.

The third technology is a very fine filter that involves a nanotech coating, to be sourced from Deakin University's Institute for Frontier Materials, which allows the UV to irradiate any remaining particles on the filter which are then destroyed by a subsequent process.

Mr Atkinson said the system was designed to address all the known indoor air quality problems and be effective against all airborne transmission diseases.

Recently retired from a lifetime of working at Deakin, Mr Atkinson has also worked with a group of businesses including Schiavello Constructions and the Advanced Offsite Group on a plan to use air disinfection units in modular medical suites with those plans now being revised with a view to developing quarantine housing potentially for use at Avalon Airport.

The C6 Group is an alliance between Geelong boutique engineering firm Workplace Alliance and Melbourne companies GPS Electrical Services and TBS Air and Energy Solutions.

Workplace Alliance managing director Wayne Allan said the efficacy of the units was set to be scientifically proven which would be a "game changer" for office air quality.

Mr Allan said it was hoped the units would be certified and ready to go into manufacture in Geelong's north by May.

Originally published as Geelong's COVID killer an office 'game changer'