In 2018, a research study released data that showed 50% of airport bins carry viruses and cause respiratory infections such as influenza. Current solutions such as hand sanitizer, antimicrobial bins, and nanotechnology mats are not systematic and miss other important areas of contamination within the airport. With the increase in emerging infections of epidemic and pandemic status as well as increased travel due to economic development, new aircraft, and new routes added, international airports should take precautions in order to reduce the spread of deadly infections. Public health is a field that concerns the health of all individuals and innovative solutions should be created in aviation in order to influence one of the main forms of transportation around the world. With increased security and threats of bioterrorism, international airports can be the next hub for catastrophic health crisis. We wanted to do something about it.
What it does
The UV light exposure system uses far-UVC light to control the spread of infectious microorganisms within baggage check-in, TSA, and baggage claim. After researching various ways to kill pathogens (disease causing microorganisms), we found that most solutions were too expensive to create, harmful to humans as a carcinogen (cancer causing agent), or other forms of UV light did more harm than good. In order to effectively kill microorganisms, UV lights needed to be shorter wavelengths exposed for a certain amount of time. We found that using far-UVC light was the best solution for our system. The UV light exposure system is a system built into baggage check-in conveyor belts as well as TSA scanning systems, and baggage claim conveyor belts.
How I built it
First, our team decided to brainstorm problems within the aviation industry that were major health concerns. The most immediate thought was the potential for the spread of infectious diseases due to increased travel and recent epidemics. We then thought about areas that would need the most attention. After brainstorming, we researched an article we knew about that was released about airport bins. We used our expertise to start sketching probable solutions. Because of the way infectious diseases spread, we decided that the best solution was an integrated system into preexisting technology within the actual infrastructure of the airport. A storyboard, flow chart, and design prototype were made. We were not able to create the full prototype of the system because it involved too many working parts, so we decided to create a portion for proof-concept. We created the TSA conveyor belt with our integrated system technology as a physical prototype. We also created a presentation explaining our problem, current solutions, our solution, market, and future ideas. Lastly, we programmed a motor that we planned on using in our live prototype using Arduino and modeled a prototype in Autodesk Inventor.
Challenges I ran into
Since we did not have a coder on our team, one of our teammates had to learn how to code. She was able to find someone after hours of learning. Once the mentor left, we tried to attach it to our conveyor built, but it would not spin. It would spin on it's on, but we quickly realized that the motor did not have enough power to spin the conveyor built alone. Due to time constraints we were not able to program another motor, so we had to create a hand crankshaft for the conveyor built. We also had issues building the physical prototype. Cutting small strips of cardboard was a tedious task and created a lot of errors during construction. Our conveyor built gave us the most issues. The actual belt would not always spin, causing us to have to think of other ways to get the belt to work.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
The overall prototype came out very well and we worked well together as a team. We are also proud that we encouraged each other when someone would get discouraged or frustrated.
What I learned
We learned that if we are really determined to do something, we can do it. We can find ways to get around obstacles and progress forward to our goal. One team member learned how to code various ways.
What's next for From Check-in to Bag Claim: Innovation for Aviation Health
We will continue to build an overall model for the full system within in the airport as well as brainstorm ways of implementation within some of the busiest airports in the United States such as Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, GA.