UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering


Development of novel anti-microbial filters using engineering solutions

Within the Healthy Infrastructure Research Group (HIRG) at UCL, we use engineering solutions to reduce the spread of infections within the indoor environment.

1 September 2017

One of the key aspects of our work involves testing anti-microbial strategies and developing preventative measures to reduce disease rather than relying on cure.

Numerous methods are currently used in the healthcare setting to help control and prevent infections – these often include air and water filtration devices. However, most of these filters only capture small particulate matter and cannot effectively destroy disease-causing microbes. Recent scientific research has shown that metallic nanoparticles, in particular silver, have strong antimicrobial properties that can effectively destroy bacteria and viruses whilst remaining non-toxic to human cells.

Through an EPSRC-funded collaboration between HIRG, UCL Mechanical Engineering and the University of Hertfordshire, we have developed an anti-microbial filter made from polymer fibres which have been embedded with engineered metallic nanoparticles that can effectively destroy pathogens.

The filters have been developed using novel methods to spin the polymer fibres whilst incorporating different combinations of metallic nanoparticles within them. These filters are then tested within HIRG against different bacteria and viruses through scaled-down water and air ventilation systems. These filters are designed to fit in with the hospital environment and improve the current air and water filtration systems. Our work within HIRG involves testing the effectiveness of these novel filters and improving them based on their ability to destroy pathogens whilst remaining safe for use within healthcare.

We have developed novel air and water filters that improve upon current filtration systems used within the healthcare profession. The filters are created using polymers embedded with metallic nanoparticles which are known to destroy disease-causing pathogens. Incorporating these particles into filters offers a promising solution to help develop antimicrobial devices and improve health within the indoor environment.