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Disinfecting the frequently touched areas at public places via automated heating

Image credit: www.emedicinehealth.com

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nanapublicbgosh Feb 08, 2021
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Not everything can be contactless. However, many things can be contact reduced. For example, everything that requires a rack to be hung on (imagine clothes at Walmart) the surface area of those racks could be reduced. Instead of heavy metal frames, the clothes could be hung on thin wires to reduce surface area and thereby reducing the amount of area germs can live on and be passed from individual to individual.

There are two places in Walmart that are the most touched. One would be the bathroom area including the drinking fountain which thankfully is now off-limits for public use. The second would be the food areas, as the majority of frequent spending shopping goes to meal planning.

Meal planning could be planned two weeks in advance instead of once per week. Jobs could be created to be meal consultants. Not only could they help you compare prices, create the shopping list, give cooking advice, but also make a map to go through Walmart as quickly as possible to get your shopping done in record time.

Back to the bathroom. Devices that heat themselves will definitely be needed to kill germs in the future. The door handles of the bathroom stalls, the toilet paper dispensers, and the edges around the sink are some of the most frequently touched places and could have copper wiring interior to heat the material enough to kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses. This same concept could be applied to modern subway systems. Instead of having a person have to clean the poles that thousands touch every day, the pole and other bracing could heat up internally to kill off unwanted pathogens.
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Creative contributions

Heated surfaces = danger of touching and expansion of the materials

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Povilas S
Povilas S Feb 24, 2021
It's a good idea, but some disadvantages need to be foreseen.

To disinfect the surface you would need to heat it till the point when it is dangerous to touch. The heat required to kill the closely related SARS coronavirus has been estimated to be between 55-65 degrees Celsius, depending on the time you want to spend heating the surface. The same is probably valid for covid-19. For reassurance, one might want to heat the surface till about 70 degrees Celsius. At those temperatures, both metallic and non-metallic surfaces can be touched for only short or extremely short periods of time without inflicting pain or tissue damage. A data table here gives a good understanding of what surfaces, how hot, and for how long can be touched.

So all the heating-based disinfection should be done either at night or at other times when the surfaces are not touched by people. It might be too complicated to do it regularly throughout the period of intense use, like making a heat disinfection breaks throughout the day, because it takes a substantial amount of time for the surfaces to cool down. Maybe an additional cooling system might be installed, to make the process faster, but then you need to regularly close certain areas and prevent people from entering for some time while others remain open, then switch them, etc.

Another thing to worry about is the expansion of materials while being heated. Once again, we are talking about pretty high temperatures. Metallic surfaces are the most suitable for this, they can withstand such temperature fluctuations (given that they are not restrained by other materials and have enough space to expand and shrink) without sustaining much damage or deformation, but for other materials, like ceramic surfaces, this might be a problem - if you install a heating element into a ceramic sink, repeated heat fluctuations are likely to crack it. Other surfaces, like plastics, might get deformed, etc.

[1]https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/this-is-the-temperature-that-kills-coronavirus/ar-BB14CyVm

[2]https://news.uga.edu/heat-key-killing-coronavirus-surfaces/

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General comments

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Juranium10 months ago
https://img.buzzfeed.com/buzzfeed-static/static/2020-12/1/2/asset/f9915c086cd5/sub-buzz-9156-1606789347-9.jpg
Silver-coated door-handles and hangers as an alternative, or
no handles at all --> automated door opening on body mass pressure (smart doorway rug) or movement sensor
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni10 months ago
I like the idea of creating a map for speed-shopping through the store. The Walmart app can store a list of items you want to buy. As and when you think of one, you add it there. The app will suggest brands and you can compare the prices and other details and add the items you want. Based on the list, the app will give you the directions that you need to follow inside the store for speedy shopping. So, you will have the directions even before you enter the store.
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Juranium10 months ago
I like the ideas!

I love to try clothes and that's the only way how I am going to buy something, but I think the germs stick to the clothes the same rate as to the hangers and the racks. Since racks and hangers are usually made from steel, wood, or plastic, they stay greasy after every human usage and therefore, offer nice moist surfaces for bacteria growth or virus survival. But clothes do the same and are, in my opinion, offering the same as the hangers. Reducing the size of the hanger surface could help, but in these pandemic times, I would rather invest money in designing more precise body measuring algorithms and tailored clothes industry that could be used from the safety of your home.

Meal consultants could really become an important job. But wouldn't be easier if a person who compares prices, creates a list, give advice and creates a fast-shopping plan, also go to the shopping, too? It sounds like a low-budget maid job, right? Like uber-maids. They could be rated on how fast they are, how much money they save or how is the quality of the food they find.

I agree with Darko Savic concerning the door handles and other heated surfaces. It could be a bit scary (I can already think of a horror movie inspired by this feature 😂), but if you implement a safety feature, something like a door handle disappearing while not cooled could be useful. The disinfectants or maybe even an ultrasound (https://news.psu.edu/story/187690/2002/12/11/ultrasound-potentially-safe-effective-way-kill-bacteria) could be a nice alternative.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic10 months ago
One alternative would be self-dispensing disinfectant sprayers that work much like car windscreen washer nozzles. The nozzles would be directed at the frequently touched surface areas. All sprayers in a room and wouldn't go off at the same time to minimize the amount of disinfectant vapor in the air. The disinfectant container would be hooked up to the internet and would "call home" when the level of disinfectant gets low and needs topping up.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic10 months ago
One thing that comes to mind is that some bacteria can survive high temperatures. For example, water heaters have to go above 60 C / 160 F to kill legionella.

According to this paper https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7361064/ In order to kill COVID‐19, the objects would need to be heated for:

3 minutes at temperature above 75°C (160°F).
5 minutes for temperatures above 65°C (149°F).
20 minutes for temperatures above 60°C (140°F).

Would people (parents with children) complain if they touch a handle that is being heated at that time?
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