Since the first disclosures about COVID-19, Marcopolo has created specific groups to assess and minimize the impacts of the pandemic on business. These teams mainly work in seeking innovative and efficient solutions that help fight the virus.
At a certain point, even at the start of the pandemic, the brand identified that most buses were out of circulation. In some regions, up to 90% of the fleet was parked. In this sense, one of Marcopolo’s groups has been strongly involved in developing solutions so that passengers can have peace of mind again when taking the bus.
Restrooms: ultraviolet radiation disinfection
One of the solutions developed by Marcopolo to assist the sector at that time was ultraviolet light to disinfect the restrooms in the bus. João Gabriel Magnabosco, Product Engineering manager, explains that the research behind applying UV-C light inside the restrooms took place in partnership with the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory at Universidade de Caxias do Sul (UCS).
“We carry out tests in all areas of the restroom where the passenger would normally touch, such as the faucet, the handrail, the toilet, the door lock. In these areas, we reached results of 99.9% efficiency in combating microorganisms”, explains Magnabosco.
But what is ultraviolet light?
There are different types of ultraviolet radiation and they are usually divided according to the wavelength in which they travel through the environment – which is in the order of nanometers. Some of these rays are more effective in eliminating germs.
“UV-C light is very efficient in combating microorganisms. It has a high penetrating power. However, there are some precautions that our technical team has taken to suggest its application inside the vehicle, such as eliminating the possibility of the passenger being exposed to the light, as radiation can be harmful to health. Another precaution is the selection of the light source because it can emit ozone radiation, generating other complications”, the Product Engineering manager informs.
How does the solution work?
The system consists of a set of ultraviolet light fixtures in a quantity and intensity adjusted to the configuration of the environment. The UV-C lamps for disinfection are activated automatically after the restroom is used or in automatic cycles when using the bus.
The radiation eliminates viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms because it can penetrate the cells of these pathogens and their genetic structure. There is also evidence that ultraviolet rays can damage the amino acids and proteins that protect the virus or allow it to bind and infect a host cell.
The solution can be applied to vehicles in operation
The BioSafe solution aimed at disinfecting restrooms was designed to be applied especially to fleets that are already in circulation. The new buses obviously also have the technology, but the innovation is easy to use in the models that are in the market.
“We made material part kits with instructions on how to assemble them in order to be able to cover the largest number of vehicles with this solution. All of this quickly while being able to benefit the public as soon as possible. The solution eases the passenger´s mind when using the bus. The innovation has been used by our national and international partners”, Magnabosco highlights.
The ultraviolet light system also disinfects the air conditioning
Marcopolo, in partnership with Valeo Thermal Bus Systems, has also developed an air conditioning system with ultraviolet light for buses that has antimicrobial action, thus assisting in the disinfection and quality of air circulating inside the brand’s vehicles.
The new solution has an ultraviolet light device integrated with the equipment’s conventional air circulation system, which can promote biosafety in collective transport. The UV-C radiation emitted, due to its potency and antimicrobial action, promotes disinfection of the air and the surfaces of the device, effective in deactivating the genetic material of viruses and sporulated bacterial cells, which have greater resistance in relation to various infectious enveloped virus agents.
A test carried out by UCS´ Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, which had collaboration from Universidade Federal de Santa Maria (UFSM) in the activities of measuring the power of the lamps, evaluated the antimicrobial effectiveness of the ultraviolet radiation installed in the air conditioning of the bus. According to the result, the efficiency rate achieved over 99%. UV-C radiation generated by lamps and enhanced by the air flow from the air conditioner disinfects the air and surfaces.
Air renewal in Marcopolo´s buses is higher than that of supermarkets and airports
Marcopolo models are equipped with air freshener devices covering natural systems, such as air intakes as well as forced systems, such as air conditioning. All of these systems are capable of providing air renewal per passenger ranging from 5.6 l/s*person to 23.7 l/s*person.
In a recent study carried out in partnership with UCS and covering Marcopolo’s bus body models, it was found that the brand’s bus bodies provide air renewal up to 63% higher than the flow required in establishments such as supermarkets (regardless of size), bank branches and airport terminals. The values were obtained considering the conditions of maximum capacity (occupancy), and varying the static and dynamic condition of the vehicle.
The study demonstrates that the air renewal capacity of air conditioning devices in buses is an important ally in combating the proliferation of the virus, especially when it occurs in hand with safety measures such as the necessary distance, the use of masks and correctly cleaning the vehicles and air conditioning systems. The data collected demystifies the idea that public transport is an enemy of the fight against COVID-19.