Joerg Bauer, President & CEO of Tungsram Group
While the world is in a shock caused by the coronavirus pandemic, some future trends are emerging defining our life and the global economy. What could be the role of Tungsram and other innovators in the post-COVID world? President & CEO of Tungsram Group, Joerg Bauer shares his vision, firstly on sanitation as a global business opportunity.
Disinfection and contamination avoidance stand at the core of the battle against the Coronavirus: we need masks, protective gear, and disinfectant liquids to slow down the spread of the virus, thus preventing healthcare systems from overload. The goal is simple: the virus has to be destroyed before it reaches our bodies, keeping it from spreading or, at least, reducing the probability of human-to-human transmission.
Sooner or later, a vaccine will be available — perhaps combined with the natural immunity of the already infected people. For a long time to come, however, fear of pathogens will remain with us. The existence of multi-resistant bacteria that had already caused problems even before the coronavirus pandemic, that is, pathogens that can resist different kinds of antibiotics and on top of that, are proliferating in hospitals, of all places — also contributes to this fear.
I think it’s not too bold a statement to assert that in the future, people travelling on airplanes will be more wary of catching something than of the actual flying itself.
When in the near future, traveling and tourism come back to life, a transparent and dependable anti-infection protection will amount to considerable competitive advantage. The traveling public will want to know what the equipment, vehicles, and lodging proprietors can provide to protect the passengers’ health.
So, what does all this mean? The disinfectant, sterilization, and hygiene industry carries a serious tradition; these three areas offer considerable growth opportunities. The demand will be huge: the sterilization equipment on its own generated a six-billion-dollar turnover in 2016, and within five years, the market will probably double.
The methods of doing away with viruses are well-known:
UV-C — a type of ultraviolet light — as well as ozone or heat, are reliable methods. And in addition to killing viruses, these successfully destroy the antibiotic-resistant bacteria, as well. The development of certain casings and special cover layers is also directed at killing pathogens or at least make their survival more difficult. A special blue light exists that is capable of stopping bacterial multiplication.
Several companies have come forward with innovative developments in this area.
Virus Killer UV-C
Before the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic, the industrial branch of UV-disinfection was estimated to become a 2.8-billion-dollar market, with Europe at its obvious focal point. With the UV-C technology (that Tungsram, since its independence gained in 2018, has been developing), water, air, and surface materials, even foods and developing plants, can all be disinfected. The latest tests were made public by the Chinese national health committee; according to this test, UV-light destroys Covid-19 within half an hour; moreover, within this time, an entire room can be completely decontaminated of pathogens.
Recently, aside from Tungsram dealing with the present need, the company prepares for the future, concentrating its engineering capacity to map the practical applications of UV-C and its complementary technologies in the battle against coronavirus.
In the most cases, UV-C renders traditional procedures unnecessary.
A technology possible to be permanently integrated, it is also applicable as a mobile solution, transferable to the venue to be disinfected. UV-C damages the human eye, so we have to apply super secure solutions to avoid exposing humans to it. However, during periods when venues are not in use, for example at night, UV-C is capable of disinfecting the empty spaces, buses, trains; it is also capable of continuously disinfecting the air or the water we drink, and in special Tungsram cabinets, it can free materials, medical equipment or protective gear, from infectious viruses and bacteria.
Self-disinfectant floors and walls
Several years ago, Graboplast caught sight of the opportunity in developing disinfectant surfaces. By applying their patented technology named TECH Surface, they developed a flexible floor covering, one that offers a solution to the most urgent healthcare problems: the infections that are burgeoning in hospitals. This is the very first photocatalytic self-disinfecting surface: its self-disinfecting quality is guaranteed by the double defense system consisting of nanosilver and NanoTiO2 particles.
Graboplast has also devised and manufactured a wall covering possessing a surface that has been proven to be effective: besides the silver ion that is known for its antibacterial effects, it also contains a protective layer that light activates, decomposing pathogens into their basic elements and thus, annihilating them all upon contact.
New methods for clean water
Access to safe drinking water is one of the most effective methods to maintain human health and diminish poverty.
According to the WHO’s 2017 report, 2.1 billion people don’t have a proper quality of drinking water in their homes, while 844 million people do not have any drinking water in their homes at all.
Beyond the proper utilization of traditional chemical-based disinfectant methods of the water industry, in recent years, the Hungarian company Aquaprofit has placed a great emphasis on research and development work. They are developing an all-encompassing service package that helps the companies dealing with handling as well as distributing complex drinking water, industrial water, and food industry water, to solve tasks regarding biological and bacterial contamination or other hygiene-sourced problems. A part of this service is the masterful counseling work, just like the mobile disinfectant equipment that can be borrowed along with the expert handling staff. An innovative online monitoring device will also be permanently integrated into the equipment, which will enable detecting microscopic biological contamination before and after interventions, thus measuring their effectiveness.
As part of another R&D tender, they developed the IWAT — Intelligent Water Aid Technology — mobile water cleaning equipment, particularly aimed at offering clean drinking water to regions where the infrastructure serving clean water is not established, or electricity is absent. Since October 2019, in Tunisia, their solar-energy-run IWAT equipment has been cleaning the water of a contaminated mountain brook, to the satisfaction of the local community.
Together, we can succeed
We welcome innovative companies and startups within the infection protection field, from all over the world, to find the solutions that are so important for Hungary and the global market. We are also inviting universities to research the most effective and secure technologies. We are seeking areas of application, references in hospitals, hotels, in the food industry, in public transport — and anywhere else where sterile surroundings are indispensable.
For this, we need a partnership among the companies, universities, and research centers of our country — alone, we cannot manage it.