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Pathogens in the air are pulled through heated filters.

Clearing the Air: Houston Venue Offers COVID Filtration

A new virtual-meetings studio inside a convention center is using virus-killing, air-purifying units to strip pathogens from indoor spaces.

The Avenida Houston Virtual Event Studio has debuted at the George R. Brown Convention Center. The new 5,250-square-foot broadcast venue is designed to accommodate virtual and hybrid events with the capability to host presenters, panelists, and audiences both in person and online. The studio is located within the convention center and benefits from the facility’s existing anti-COVID-19 technology including attendee temperature scanning at entrances and electrostatic disinfectant spraying which can sanitize up to 54,000 square feet of the center’s meeting rooms and common areas in under an hour.
Avenida Houston Virtual Studio.jpg
However, come September the studio will also be home to a new air-purifying technology which promises to eliminate up to 99.999 percent of coronavirus particles. The Integrated Viral Protection system from Medistar Corporation will be deployed in three “plug and purify” mobile units, each of which can process 1,800 cubic feet of air per minute. The company claims pathogens such as COVID-19 and anthrax are instantly destroyed by a heating element without significantly affecting the surrounding room temperature. Houston’s convention center is currently the only one in the country which has adopted the technology; although it is currently using the mobile units, permanent processors can be integrated into an existing HVAC system for larger spaces.

The system works by passing air from the room over nickel-foam filters heated to 392 degrees Fahrenheit; studies have found that coronavirus particles become inactive above 158 degrees. Compartments in the nickel foam are heated via electrical current but retain the heat so that purified air emitted from the unit is cool. Click here for a video guide.

IVP is the invention of Medistar Corporation CEO Monzer Hourani using research from the Superconductivity Center of Texas at The University of Houston, Galveston National Laboratory at UTMB, and Texas A&M Engineering and Experiment Station. It has been tested and endorsed by teams from the Massachusetts Institute for Technology and the Argonne National Laboratory at the University of Chicago.

Medistar has already installed IVP in the Slidell Independent School District in Texas and is in the process of installing it in a school district in Florida.

There are currently several air purification systems in use at hotels and meeting venues in the U.S., including this one from Plasma Air. But the George R. Brown Convention Center’s investment in a virtual/hybrid studio and its three-pronged approach to in-person safety —attendee health checks, surface cleaning, and air purification—could go a long way toward providing the reassurance needed to return to in-person events.

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