BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A powerful air sterilization technology
developed at the University at Buffalo has killed every biological
agent with which it has been challenged, including airborne spores,
viruses and bacteria in independent tests conducted for the U.S.
Department of Defense.
A prototype produced by Buffalo BioBlower Technologies LLC, a UB
spin-off company, destroyed biological agents to a level of better
than one part per million in an independent evaluation conducted
over a period of four weeks by the Research Triangle Institute for
the U.S. Department of Defense Joint Program for Chemical and
Biological Defense Collective Protection.
In a related development, UB recently received a Notice of
Allowance, indicating that a U.S. patent will issue soon covering
the BioBlower technology.
"Everything from hospitals, first-responder units and postal
facilities to government buildings and mass-transit systems could
benefit enormously from the security and peace of mind generated by
this device," said Rep. Louise M. Slaughter. "Once again, our
region is serving as a leader in technological development, and it
is this labor and innovation that are benefiting people both
locally and throughout our country."
The positive outcomes in the independent evaluation indicate
that BioBlower could, in the near future, be protecting soldiers
from biological attack, according to James F. Garvey, Ph.D.,
professor in the Department of Chemistry in the UB College of Arts
and Sciences and co-founder and chief technical officer of Buffalo
BioBlower Technologies, with John Lordi, Ph.D., chief executive
Lordi is a research professor in the Department of Mechanical
and Aerospace Engineering in the UB School of Engineering and
Applied Sciences. James D. Felske, Ph.D., and Joseph C. Mollendorf,
Ph.D., professors in the same department, are co-inventors with
Garvey and Lordi.
"This independent third-party validation of our technology was
so exceptionally compelling that the military has now directed us
to retrofit one of their existing platforms with a BioBlower as a
technology demonstration," Garvey said.
The military system now being retrofitted with BioBlower is used
to inflate the hospital units and temporary shelters erected in the
battlefield for command headquarters.
"We're removing their current fan and replacing it with our
electrical air pump, the BioBlower, which also will instantly kill
any airborne biological agents on contact," Garvey said.
Conventional technologies involve the use of HEPA
(High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, which simply trap large
airborne spores. These passive filters have to be regularly
replaced and properly discarded, posing a further potential hazard
to personnel, Garvey said. In addition, they provide little or no
protection against airborne viruses.
"Right now, it's up to soldiers in the field to swap out these
filters and replace them, which involves considerable logistic
demands, such as labor and expense," said Garvey.
In contrast, he noted, the BioBlower immediately kills any and
all airborne biological pathogens and only electricity is needed to
power the rotary air pump, which drives the blower.
"With the BioBlower, there's nothing to replace and no
maintenance," said Garvey. "It's really 'plug and play.' You plug
in the machine and as long as it's running, it's doing its
BioBlower units are inherently scalable, said Garvey, and can be
installed as a permanent part of a building's air-handling (HVAC)
system, including on military bases.
The technology also has potential applications in health-care
and hospital settings to ensure a sterile environment. The New York
State Foundation for Science, Technology and Academic Research
currently is funding development of a BioBlower prototype for
health-care settings with the goal of taking it into clinical
BioBlower also has application to the home health-care setting,
a market poised to experience tremendous growth in coming years,
said Garvey, who adds that a small portable unit could completely
sterilize all of the air in any room in the house.
The BioBlower technology moved out of UB's laboratories and into
the commercialization phase thanks to funding from several sources,
including the U.S. Department of Defense, secured by U.S. Rep.
Louise M. Slaughter; UB's Office of Science Technology and Economic
Outreach; NYSTAR and the UB Center for Advanced Biomedical and
Bioengineering Technology, part of UB's New York State Center of
Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, where Buffalo
BioBlower Technologies is based.
BioBlower is based on a modification of a Roots blower, a
mechanical air-pump technology, which has been in existence for
more than 100 years and has been used for a range of applications
from vacuum pumps in research laboratories to superchargers for
drag-racing "funny cars."
The BioBlower destroys airborne pathogens by rapidly heating the
contaminated air under pressure and mechanically compressing it as
it is being blown rapidly through the mechanical rotary pump. The
system then blows the disinfected air back into the enclosed
environment whether it is a tank, plane, ship, tent or
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, a flagship institution in the State University
of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus.
UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests
through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional
degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a
member of the Association of American Universities.