A cutting-edge air conditioning system that can be used to create negative-pressure wards without polluting the air is soon expected to join the fight against COVID-19, an academic-medical team told a news conference yesterday.
The team, led by National Chin-Yi University of Technology professor Weng Kuo-liang (翁國亮), developed the system, which utilizes the exchange of water molecules between indoor and outdoor environments under different pressure to create a cooler, cleaner space with low pressure.
The system uses separate pipes to collect outdoor air and discharge indoor air, as well as devices to disinfect air and absorb airborne particles, Weng said at the Ministry of Science and Technology in Taipei.
It can be used to convert an ordinary ward into a negative-pressure ward, while its energy conversion rate can exceed 85 percent, better than that of conventional air conditioners at 65 to 78 percent, he said.
The system, which costs NT$150,000 (US$4,946) would be used by Changhua-based Show Chwan Memorial Hospital in a collaborative project supported by the ministry, he said.
It could be used in other settings, such as households, hotels or regional centers, Weng added.
Taiwan has nearly 1,100 isolation beds, which would be sufficient as long as the nation keeps the COVID-19 pandemic under control, but the hospital hopes to take preemptive action by preparing more space for quarantine, the hospital’s Asian Institute of TeleSurgery dean Wayne Huang (黃士維) said.
Negative-pressure isolation wards for patients with infectious diseases have to be certified by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, while wards with negative-pressure conditions do not need such certification and could be used to quarantine people with suspected symptoms, he said.
The hospital would use the system developed by the team to convert an ordinary ward into negative-pressure space and build two quarantine stations with similar conditions outside the hospital, he said.
Under its industrial value creation program that started in 2017, the ministry has been supporting academics to commercialize their research achievements by working with business partners, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Hsu Yu-chin (許有進) said.
Nineteen cases funded through the program have set up start-ups, and their aggregate commercial value have reached NT$4.77 billion, he said.