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. (Graphic | The Biofactory)
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
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.