IndyGo to outfit entire bus fleet with air-disinfecting ultraviolet technology

IndyGo to outfit entire bus fleet with air-disinfecting ultraviolet technology

The technology fits in the buses' existing HVAC systems, using an air filter and UVC light — the shortest wavelength, highest energy form of ultraviolet radiation — to inactivate pathogens.
November 15, 2021

By Kayla Dwyer, The Indianapolis Star

During his brief stint as a substitute teacher at Christ The King Catholic School on Indianapolis' north side last year, Dan Fillenwarth, a former HVAC professional, found himself cringing at the field day pathogens like the coronavirus would have on a school bus.

Fifty kids on a school bus is about equivalent in density to 275 kids in a regular classroom, he said. On a full, typical city bus, the density comparison is like squeezing 1,100 people into an office that should fit 40 people.

Last fall, he helped launch Lumin-Air in Indianapolis, whose air-disinfecting technology using ultraviolet light soon will be installed on IndyGo's bus fleet.

IndyGo's contract with Lumin-Air will cost up to $1.6 million to outfit its 376 buses with the devices and maintain them over the next five years. The installation will happen over the next several months.

The money is coming from leftover funds from other capital projects that came in under budget, IndyGo Chief Operations Officer Aaron Vogel said.

The technology fits in the buses' existing HVAC systems, using an air filter and UVC light — the shortest wavelength, highest energy form of ultraviolet radiation — to inactivate pathogens.

"This doesn't just take care of the pandemic now, it sets us up for the future," said Brian Clem, IndyGo's director of risk and safety.

UVC radiation, the air-cleaning technology used in hospital operating rooms, has been proven to inactivate other coronaviruses. The relatively limited research related to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, shows that similar ultraviolet dosages can inactivate it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Exposure to UVC radiation is harmful to people, but Lumin-Air's device does not outwardly emit any UVC, Fillenwarth demonstrated on an IndyGo bus Monday.

Lumin-Air is also outfitting the school bus fleet for LaPorte Community Schools in northern Indiana, a portion of the SEPTA commuter rail cars in Philadelphia, and some buses in pilot programs in other school districts across the country. The company has a patent pending for its technology.

Though a year and a half of pandemic has passed, Clem said it took time to weed through the thick forest of new companies with promises to disinfect the air of COVID-19.

"There was a blizzard of technology," he said — and IndyGo was looking for something cost-effective that lined up with its preventative maintenance schedule.

"This is taxpayer money," he said.

Contact IndyStar transportation reporter Kayla Dwyer at kdwyer@indystar.com or follow her on Twitter @kayla_dwyer17.

©2021 www.indystar.com. Visit indystar.com.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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