Corona research

Corona research at Fraunhofer IKTS

Ceramic solutions to combat the coronavirus pandemic

 

The “Anti Corona“ program of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft supports projects from various sectors that have been proven to help contain the pandemic. In this context, the Fraunhofer IKTS is working on several projects and uses the outstanding property portfolio of advanced ceramics for applications in biomedical analysis or infection protection. In this way we would like to contribute to scientific progress in the fight against the corona virus.

 

CoClean-up: Highly efficient room air disinfection to contain the corona virus

 

The main transmission pathway for SARS-CoV-2 are virus-containing droplets and aerosols, which are produced, among other things, during breathing and speaking. In a joint project, the Fraunhofer Institutes IKTS and ITEM are developing a system with which the air in closed rooms e.g. in hospitals, schools, restaurants or fitness studios could be disinfected in the future. The system works on the process principle of electrochemical total oxidation, in which organic substances such as viruses are completely destroyed. This guarantees that even endotoxins or other products of incomplete pollutant decomposition do not enter the indoor air, especially in air conditioning or ventilation systems. In the project, the Fraunhofer IKTS is responsible for the design of the overall system, the development of ceramic diffusers and the electrochemical oxidation module. After the successful development of a prototype for room air disinfection, system optimization and integration, testing on airborne pathogens, as well as an increase in scale, are to be carried out quickly.


Contact: Dipl.-Chem. Hans-Jürgen Friedrich, +49 351 88815-720, hans-juergen.friedrich@ikts.fraunhofer.de

 

MEMBsS: Decentralized supply of oxygen for ventilators

 

The corona pandemic poses major challenges to the health systems of affected countries. In order to be able to significantly increase the respiratory capacity for severely ill COVID-19 patients during peak loads, the Fraunhofer IKTS is developing oxygen generators with which pure oxygen can be produced decentrally and which can thus be operated at changing locations in hospitals or temporary medical facilities. The systems separate oxygen from the ambient air. This is sterile and free of virucidal components. The separation process is based on mixed-conducting ceramic membranes that are permeable at high temperatures only for ultra-pure oxygen. The oxygen generator is to be constructed, tested and evaluated as a prototype of a series device and will enable the supply of approx. 15 patients (85 L O2/min).


Contact: Dr. Ralf Kriegel, +49 36601 9301-4870, ralf.kriegel@ikts.fraunhofer.de

 

TO-G: Plasma disinfection of medical protective clothing

 

Lack of protective clothing is a huge threat in the fight against the corona virus pandemic. Research is currently underway into plasma disinfection systems that can be used to disinfect protective clothing and thus reuse it. However, the plastic and metal plasma electrodes currently used show wear very quickly, which is very detrimental to the otherwise highly attractive disinfection method. To solve this problem, the Fraunhofer IKTS is developing electrically conductive ceramics for this functional core component based on an innovative sintering technology for titanium oxides. On the one hand, these ceramics reliably withstand the high electrical voltages required for plasma generation. On the other hand, functionally different electrode components can be cost-effectively combined in just one process step.

 

Contact: Dr.-Ing. Hans-Peter Martin, +49 351 2553-7744, hans-peter.martin@ikts.fraunhofer.de

 

Micro-PCR: Precisely adjustable thermal cyclers for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2

 

PCR tests are used for the laboratory diagnostic detection of a corona infection. In order to further reduce the test times in the future and thus be able to interrupt infection chains more quickly, Fraunhofer IKTS is developing novel thermal cyclers. These help to heat up and cool down the sample material quickly and specifically in order to amplify the viral genetic material using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and thus be able to detect the virus. The new thermal cycler combines various ceramic technologies: Using additive manufacturing processes, the housing is printed with integrated heating conductor structures which are functionalized with ceramic heating pastes. This enables direct heat transfer and faster heating and cooling rates.


Contact: Dr.-Ing. Lars Rebenklau, +49 351 2553-7986, lars.rebenklau@ikts.fraunhofer.de

 

BioKomp: Quantitative biocompatibility testing for 3D printed materials

 

At the beginning of the corona pandemic, there were considerable supply bottlenecks in the medical sector. In order to avoid these in the event of a renewed intensification of the corona pandemic and to make rapid solutions available for patient care (e.g. emergency ventilators, protective equipment, diagnostic acute consumables), the Fraunhofer IKTS is working on a novel biocompatibility test for 3D-printed plastic components in direct cell/tissue contact. The project aims to prove that it is possible to quantify cytotoxicity in direct cell tests using the “ClicKit-Well“ in vitro test system developed in-house. This will enable physicians to make a risk assessment and decision on the use of the additive manufactured products. The project team includes the University of Leipzig and the Research and Transfer Center Leipzig e. V. (FTZ) at the University of Applied Sciences (HTWK). The partners work together with hospitals and the city of Leipzig.


Contact: Dr. rer. nat. Juliane Spohn, +49 341 35536-3411, juliane.spohn@ikts.fraunhofer.de