At the very first stage of the coronavirus outbreak, in March 2020, scientists of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University (TSU) launched activities to respond to the COVI-19 challenges and accelerate the creation of a new disinfection device on the basis of already existing studies. A prototype of such ozone generator has already been developed and the first steps have been taken towards its production and introduction.
An inter-laboratory technical research group was established at R. Agladze Institute of Inorganic Chemistry and Electrochemistry of TSU in March 2020. The group was tasked to develop a new type of ozone generator model to be used for disinfection against the novel coronavirus.
A number of available studies have made it possible to start the work:
In 1993, the potential of ozone for sewage treatment was determined through collaboration with then “Plague Center.” The research was conducted using a small capacity ozone generator (ozonator) developed and created at the Institute. The results showed an absolute bactericidal effect. Next year, the same method was successfully tested at the tuberculosis clinic in Tbilisi.
In 1994, the National Intellectual Property Center of Georgia – Sakpatenti patented the invention of the Institute’s researchers.
In 2004, the ozonator developed and created at the Institute was introduced at Zhvania Pediatric Academic Clinic for treatment of infected bodies and wounds.
According to the Institute, the group of researchers from the Institute has developed a design of the ozone generator (model IICE-20); its parameters were specified based on laboratory experience and an internal standard document was officially approved by the director’s relevant act. The generator has a unique construction, meaning that it can be used for receiving a planned ozone concentration in the water, as well as disinfecting air and objects in a closed space. In each particular case, the process of disinfection requires a relevant time regime and observance of safety rules. The scientists have already adopted a relevant laboratory conclusion, according to which the ozone generator has been developed through observance of the EU regulations and norms.
Gia Tatishvili, director of R. Agladze Institute of Inorganic Chemistry and Electrochemistry, said that the main reason why ozone is used as a means of disinfection is its strong oxidation. He also noted that by its level of oxidation, ozone is 50-fold more effective than chlorine.
“Unlike liquids, ozone has unique disinfection features, because like gas, ozone is characterized by high penetration potential. Ozone is heavier than air, so it tends to sink rather than rising. It kills one and multicellular microorganisms: bacteria, viruses, fungi. Presently, there are no scientifically proven data about the fact that any type of microorganism is resistant to ozone,” Gia Tatishvili clarified.
He also said that there are a lot of ways of disinfection, but ozone processing has a 99% efficacy against such pathogens as flu, acute respiratory infection and coronavirus. When disinfecting large areas, it is proven that ozone gas kills atypical pneumonia virus. Gia Tatishvili suggests that ozone may be effective in fighting the novel coronavirus.
“Compared to a lot of various chemical alternatives, generation takes place on the ground, where only the source of electricity is needed and no other materials, like chemicals are required; unlike other disinfectants, it effectively reacts to all virus strains,” Tatishvili added.
The model IICE-20 created by TSU scientists is 2.5-3-fold cheaper than other ozonators available on the market. Tatishvili also noted that any damages can be repaired at the Institute if any required.
“The market is full of such scientific-technical devices, because it has a global nature. Therefore, to gain an advantage on internal market, a new innovative product has been developed, which is complex in its essence, because it involves not only the device, but also offers diverse services. It is important especially as ozone is considered harmful and its professional use is limited. Thus, the key advantage that makes the product competitive has been revealed – offering a mix product involving an ozonator and a service represents a specific form for selling it,” Tatishvili added.
Considering this potential, the new model developed by TSU scientists has already triggered huge interest from medical community. The Institute received the first letters of interest from the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health. Relevant funds (a loan) have already been allocated under the government-sponsored “Produce in Georgia” program for launching the production of ozone generators. Thus, TSU Ozone, an enterprise producing generators, will start operating at the Institute in 2021.
Gia Tatishvili clarified that ozone generators will be produced on demand. Negotiations have been launched with various private companies on selling the product.
Long-term plans were outlined on the basis of the Institute’s research achievements. In particular, the area of the use of ozone will be expanded further.