© The Biofactory

Instant isola­tion station

The pandemic has brought hospi­tals to their capacity limits, including in isola­tion rooms. Biomed­ical special­ists from The Biofac­tory came up with their plug-and-play chamber system to provide relief.

Infec­tion control in hospi­tals has become an impor­tant topic over the past two years. Nega­tive pres­sure isola­tion rooms are one option to ensure the safety of both patients and medical personnel. However, with high number of infec­tions, there are not enough existing rooms. There­fore, the research and devel­op­ment team at The Biofac­tory has devel­oped a mobile solu­tion. For more than a decade, the company has been Singapore’s leading inno­vator for high-quality biomed­ical tech­nolo­gies. This time, the inno­va­tion is a portable, prefab­ri­cated nega­tive pres­sure chamber that is easy to install.

“We wanted to develop a ‘plug-and-play’ solu­tion that is easy to set up and remove so that addi­tional capacity can be created quickly and without any modi­fi­ca­tions,” says Dr Marcus Tan, Clin­ical Inno­va­tion Manager at The Biofac­tory. The inno­v­a­tive units can be set up as a nega­tive pres­sure chamber in any space. This makes it easy to convert any key hospital facility into an isola­tion area.

The mobile vacuum chamber achieves 99.9 percent decon­t­a­m­i­na­tion. This enables it to isolate patient rooms regard­less of the building’s venti­lation system. The system makes it easier for hospi­tals to switch oper­ating theaters to nega­tive pres­sure within hours. (Graphic | The Biofac­tory)

The ground­breaking tech­nology devel­oped jointly by The Biofac­tory and Singa­pore General Hospital is called SPARCX (System of Portable Ante­room for Contain­ment). Thanks to a patented air purifi­ca­tion solu­tion, the mobile vacuum chamber achieves 99.9 percent decon­t­a­m­i­na­tion. This enables them to isolate patient rooms regard­less of the building’s existing venti­lation system. SPARCX is the only system on the market that was tested with living, non-path­o­genic viruses. The result demon­strated that no microbes escape from the chamber.

As a mobile solu­tion, the SPARCX is easy and quick to install. “Installing smaller units takes only three hours, and larger units require six hours,” adds Marcus Tan. “Installing and commis­sioning the systems only requires the system to be out of use for a short time. This reduces the impact on ongoing clin­ical oper­a­tions.” In addi­tion, the system also makes it easier for hospi­tals to convert oper­ating theaters to be suit­able for isola­tion purposes, a process which usually takes months. The SPARCX enables this within hours.

In addi­tion to fast use, trouble-free instal­la­tion, reli­a­bility and user-friend­li­ness, this new type of conver­sion of rooms into isola­tion rooms with a pre-assem­bled, portable solu­tion is also more cost-effec­tive than a perma­nent conver­sion.

RadiCal: The compact and ideal solu­tion

The mobile nega­tive pres­sure chamber can trans­form any space into an isolated space. (Photo | The Biofac­tory)

For the SPARCX venti­lation system, The Biofac­tory focused on high-quality compo­nents that are compact and easy to install, which is why EC fans from ebm-papst were chosen. A vari­able number of centrifugal fans from the RadiCal series are used in each mobile nega­tive pres­sure chamber. Thanks to their high levels of effi­ciency, their EC motors generate little waste heat emitted into the circu­lated air.

The speed of fans with EC tech­nology can also be easily controlled with a 0-10 V DC/PWM control signal or MODBUS RTU. The EC fans also easily meet the strict noise emis­sions require­ments for medical equip­ment, as their impellers have been opti­mized in line with aero­dy­namic criteria. There­fore, they contribute to a signif­i­cant noise reduc­tion of up to 7 dB(A) compared to the industry stan­dard.

Gabriel Tan, Director of The Biofac­tory, says: “Thanks to the high quality of the compo­nents, we were certain that our chamber would fulfill its func­tion. ebm-papst fans have proven to be reli­able and are easy to inte­grate into our product range. They are also very energy effi­cient and quiet.”

An inno­va­tion for the public good

The inno­va­tion was also convincing to Singapore’s public health­care procure­ment agency ALPS Pte Ltd.: it has commis­sioned The Biofac­tory to be a supplier of SPARCX for all local public health facil­i­ties. As the mobile nega­tive pres­sure chamber can trans­form any space into an isolated space, it is also of interest to other areas and sectors to better protect people from diseases trans­mitted through the air.

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