Rajat Kumar Panigrahy, Principal of the government Industrial Training Institute (ITI) in Odisha’s Berhampur, has started transforming discarded microwave ovens into Ultraviolet (UV) sanitisation chambers for the disinfection of mobile phones, pens and other small objects carried by medical staff working in COVID-19 hospitals.
The Berhampur ITI has decided to approach the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for validation of this low cost UV sanitisation chamber to kill the novel coronavirus. “Transformation of thrown away microwave oven to UV sanitisation chamber costs only ₹1,200,” explained Mr. Panigrahy. “Any equipment has to be placed in it for 15 minutes for disinfection and we have also added a timer for the purpose,” he added.
There is an urgent need for UV sanitisers at COVID-19 hospitals. Cleaning mobile phones using chemical sanitisers at times damages the touch-screen of smartphones. And existing purpose built UV sanitiser units in the market were found to cost too much, observed Mr. Panigrahy. UV light sources, he however found, were quite inexpensive. The only obstacle was the availability of an affordable sealed chamber, so as to ensure that the UV rays could not escape posing a threat to human health.
Keeping the concept of ‘best from waste’ in mind, Mr. Panigrahy started searching for such a chamber. After experimenting with various options, he settled on a discarded microwave oven as the most suitable choice, a decision that was technically endorsed by some of his friends serving as faculty in different Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) whom he consulted.
One of his students, who works in the servicing unit of a microwave oven manufacturer in Berhampur, managed to arrange a used microwave cooker. Mr. Panigrahy removed its inner circuits and mechanical parts and put in UV lamps, a timer and other neccessary equipment. With this small ‘jugaad’, a microwave oven was transformed into a UV sanitiser unit.
Mr. Panigrahy noted that similar low-cost UV sanitiser chambers could be built from used microwave ovens anywhere in the country. The Berhampur ITI has decided to share the know-how with other interested ITIs, if the device gets approved by the ICMR.
Earlier, faculty from the Berhampur ITI had also designed and manufactured highly affordable ‘face shields’ that could be used by front-line personnel involved in containing the pandemic. Several ITIs in Odisha and outside the State were also provided the know-how. Police personnel in Bihar’s Jahanabad have started using these face shields, after the ITI in Jahanabad started manufacturing them.