Fall 2020 Design I Final Competition

Section F: Helluva Design Team


Problem Statement: How might we provide affordable sanitation products while minimizing waste?

Team Members: Aryelle Wright, Zach Heckman, Levi Johnson, Iris Elias and Michael Dawson

Instructor: Mike Yost


  1. Hey Helluva Design Team, great work! I was just wondering what area this device is able to sanitize- does it sanitize the area directly below it or does it have a larger reach? Who is the target audience for this design (schools, gyms, restaurants, etc)? Will the device be on at all times or would it only be turned on when something needs to be sanitized?

    • Ms. Mazza,

      Hello, and thank you for your questions. Our device, with the help of the suspension system, is able to disinfect surfaces directly below, if lowered all the way, and surfaces nearby, if brought closer to the ceiling. With the UVC-light being at 254nm, it’s able to have the same effect with these different distances.
      The targeted locations for our design would be classrooms, conference rooms, gyms, and restaurants; this would be perfect in any commonly used space! The UVC light is powered by a simple push of a button. Once this is activated, the Arduino switch system allows for the disinfection process to begin. As seen in the video (2:15-2:32) the Arduino switches the UVC lights on after turning the normal lights off; this activates a 10-minute timer to disinfect the surface. The circuits are then switched back to how they were so that only the normal lights remain on. This allows for an effective, user-friendly, and safe process.

  2. Hi Helluva Design Team, interesting idea. I had a similar question to Kimberly’s regarding targeted audience, so to follow up on that, did the team look at the efficacy of the UV light against different types of surfaces (solids, permeable materials, fabrics, etc.) to account for the variety of applications? Also, did you look at how would the design and angle of the light fixtures differ in these different applications, or areas that might be out of the line of sight such as the underside of a door handle? Thanks!

    • Good morning Ms. Sievers and thank you for the question. That is the perfect thing about our UVC-light being at 254nm, it can sanitize any surface it touches! When hanging in a classroom or office, ANY surface that touches the light will be decontaminated and disinfected. All that needs to happen is ANY material (solids, fabrics, permeable material, etc.) needs to be in contact with the UVC-light for approximately ten minutes. The most important part of the sanitation process is the duration. The light must be on for approximately ten minutes. To account for the different angles of light fixtures, our teammate Michael Dawson’s hanging subsystem may be lowered to be closer to a surface to make sure to reach different parts of an area that’s under the light. Also, since our design is modular, there will be several UVC-lights in a single room. The size of the room determines the amount of modular systems needed in that room. This will account for areas that are sometimes hard to reach, such as areas under door handles. To hopefully help my explanation, let’s use McNeill 315 as an example. That room is large enough that we could easily fit three full-scale modular UVC-lights. One of the UVC-lights will be near the door and can be lowered to access all parts of the door, such as the underside of the door handle. It is up to the user to account for this. I hope this answer helped!

    • Also, new research suggests that the addition of ultraviolet light to the brushing and suction of a vacuum cleaner can almost double the removal of potentially infectious microorganisms from a carpet’s surface when compared to vacuuming alone. I found this website talking about using UVC light to kill mold, which grows on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery. https://altanrobotech.com/programmable-uv-c-light-that-kills-germs-fights-mold-deodorizes-the-air-and-surfaces/
      Without getting too technical, a UVC light sanitizer acts by penetrating the thin wall of a small microscopic organism and destroying its nucleic acids or its DNA. USFDA has approved the use of Germicidal UV light for processing and treatment of food.

      • To add on to Aryelle’s response, the reason that this solution would not need to be further adapted is due to the way in which the UVC light acts, or rather all light acts. While direct light would be the most effective in sanitizing a surface, the light reflects off of the surfaces continuously, and with enough of these reflections, all of the surfaces are eventually covered through indirect exposure. You can equate this to the reason that shadows are not pitch black. The reason that the system has to be left on for 10 minutes is to allow these surfaces that receive indirect UVC light to be disinfected for a longer period of time. I hope this answers your question!

  3. Good morning team, great presentation and interesting solution. After watching your video I have a couple of questions:

    How much waste is produced annual via single use sanitation products?

    Who are your key stakeholders? Did you receive any feedback during your solution development?

    What was the greatest risk for your system identified by the team? How did the team mitigate that risk?

    Are there any competing solutions on the market? What makes your solution different/better than these options?

    • Mr. Duran,

      In comparison to single use products, we found that 10 year usage of Clorox wipes in public space adds up to about $50,000. Annually, this is about $5,000. The total projected cost of our design is $4,400. This saves users around $600 annually. We also calculated that our device’s cost per usage is $0.0024 meaning the device will be able to pay for itself in less than a year’s time.

      From our risk assessment, we found that there is a potential risk related to UNC exposure. In order to mitigate this risk we concluded that users should not be in the room while the UVC light is sanitizing surfaces. One time exposure to UVC-light is an acceptable risk and not a major health concern, but repeated exposure for long durations to UVC-lights can increase risk of cancer and other health risks equivalent to that of UVC exposure due to intense sunlight.. However, due to the wavelength of the UVC light even if you were to stand under the light for an hour you would receive a mild sunburn. This is why we programmed the system to have a delay function to allow users to exit the space before sanitation begins. This way the product would run in between classes so that the entire class is sanitized while there is no one in the room. This was also mitigated by the ability to lower the unit to the surface so that unwanted exposure can be avoided if the product is being implemented in areas with continual use. This combination was determined that the risk of adverse UVC exposure would be minimized to an acceptable level.

    • The key stakeholders we identified were schools and businesses although our solution could be applied to any surface that needs sanitation. We focused on teachers and business people because our design is best suited for disinfection of high use surfaces and rooms which is a necessity in these practices. When we consulted the stakeholders, they required the new sanitation method to be affordable, easy and fast to use, and effective. Our team addressed these concerns by ensuring the upfront cost can be recouped quickly through savings on alternative sanitation. We also responded by allowing the lights to be turned on with a push of a button and by using a UVC light wavelength that kills 99.9% of viruses present.

    • Our device is different in a sense that it is modularly scaled so it can fill any order size that is needed as well it is discrete and out of the way, in comparison to the UV light robot, which drives around to disinfect a room. The biggest advantage of our product is that it is much more suitable for large spaces, such as a lecture hall in a university. The UV robot is unable to sanitize these spaces since it is unable to move around in areas with steps or stairs. Our product can be fitted to almost any ceiling and is able to clean rooms of anysize. It is not limited to flat rooms as the robots are as most buildings have stairs on the floors such as in lecture halls there are very often steps implemented into the classrooms which would stop the robots functionality. As well the robot inherently is in the way as it has to drive around on the ground in order to go from one room to another. So, in the case of an emergency in a hospital and they have to rush a person to the emergency room there is a chance that the robot could just be blocking the hallway or door way that is needed. Our product on the other hand is always out of the way and has multiple heights it can be set to so it will be up near the ceiling unless needed to be lowered. As well our product is cheaper. Although we were unable to find out the price for the Danish company’s UVD Robot it is definitely more than the wiring for our UV light sanitation system. The downside of our product in comparison to the robot is that it would have to be installed in each room while the robot would be able to cover multiple rooms by driving between them. However, there would need to be a very large amount of rooms without any restrictive architecture in order for the robot to be more cost efficient, and even still our product is much more discrete and less likely to interfere with day to day operations.

    • Through research, we have found several studies that have tested UVC light against Coronavirus. For example, Columbia has done multiple experiments regarding this exact idea. “…the researchers used a misting device to aerosolize two common coronaviruses. The aerosols containing coronavirus were then flowed through the air in front of a far-UVC lamp. After exposure to far-UVC light, the researchers…found that more than 99.9% of the exposed virus had been killed by a very low exposure to far-UVC light.” (https://www.cuimc.columbia.edu/news/far-uvc-light-safely-kills-airborne-coronaviruses)
      Based on that information, I have only found one common device on the market. It’s a “…UV-light-emitting robot that…zaps operating rooms clean of all pathogens…the manufacturers of these robots, Danish company UVD Robots and Texas based Xenex Disinfection Services, believe that they are effective at killing the coronavirus…” (https://nymag.com/strategist/article/does-uv-light-kill-germs-best-sterilizer.html)