Vikand, a leading provider of medical services to more than 170 cruise ships globally, hopes to play a part by promoting ship-wide use of the air and surface cleaning system Hygensea.
This claims to eliminate up to 99.999% of airborne viruses and bacteria within one to two hours, including the MS2, recognized as a surrogate to COVID-19 by the US Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization. It also kills over 99.9% of viruses, bacteria and mold on hard surfaces and porous materials within hours, effectively creating an immune system for the ship, according to Peter Hult, CEO and president, Vikand.
Integrated into HVAC systems
Hult said the Hygensea System is easily integrated into existing HVAC systems or can be designed into a new system. While there's no evidence HVAC systems spread COVID-19, when people sneeze or cough, the virus becomes aerosolized and can infect others who breathe it in. COVID-19 also spreads when people touch surfaces with the virus and then their mouth, nose or eyes.
Hygensea kills the virus in the air and on the surfaces, differentiating it from spray or liquid products that clean only surfaces.
Hydroxyls, a concept used by NASA
The system generates hydroxyls, a concept long used by NASA to clean the air inside sealed spacecraft.
The sanitizing process occurs at a molecular level using airborne hydroxyls and the natural organic oxidants they form, which are generated by a process similar to the action of the sun’s UV energy reacting with oxygen and water vapor outdoors. The technology uses only UV energy to generate hydroxyls indoors where they do not exist naturally. There are no added chemicals.
The UV energy transforms water vapor directly into a stream of hydroxyls. These powerful oxidants react instantly with naturally occurring volatile organic compounds to form a cascade of natural oxidants in air to sanitize indoors just like the sun does outdoors.
'The detergent of the environment'
Hydroxyls are like the detergent of the environment, Hult explained. 'In simple terms, it's bringing the outdoors indoors to reduce pathogens.'
Some cruise ships currently use the Hygensea System in their casinos to remove the smell of tobacco smoke. With the improved air quality, people stay longer so there's a revenue payback. The system is also used in shipboard medical centers and garbage rooms, and one vessel has it in some guest suites.
But Hult sees a compelling need for ship-wide use — in restaurants, public spaces, children's areas and all guest rooms. Vikand, the exclusive distributor of the Hygensea System to the maritime industry, is talking with some high-profile cruise lines that are seeking solutions to protect passengers, restore confidence and recover from the coronavirus crisis.
The system is easily retrofitted while a ship is in operation, according to Hult, who said it can be done in a week or two, depending on the ship's size. However, even vessels in the same class may have different HVAC systems, so an assessment is required to make a plan.
Vessel design and engineering experts Knud E. Hansen are working in partnership with Vikand to bring a complete HVAC engineering system to their clients.
Added benefit: energy conservation
There's an energy conservation benefit, too. With the Hygensea System, air recirculation can be maximized without degrading air quality. This saves energy and, by Vikand's calculations, fuel consumption can be reduced by a significant 1% to 3% on a full-ship installation. That's good for the environment and helps recover the cost of the investment.
Going forward, public health at sea will be an even bigger focus than in the past, but with approaches like the Hygensea System, this can create a positive story for the industry, Hult said.