Imagine that you do not have to open the door with your elbow, when entering the room, carefully remove the mask, then the gloves, try not to touch anything, then disinfect the groceries and immediately put the clothes to wash. This is a practice that has become too familiar to all of us in the past, as we try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Exactly such a fight against COVID-19 was contributed by the engineers of the Šabac company Corten Art. It is no coincidence if it sounds familiar to you, because we have already written about their business, which was supported by the EU through the EU PRO programme. In short, Corten Art received a grant of around 15,000 Euros in May 2019, which was aimed at purchasing equipment and creating new jobs.
In the meantime, it has been clear that although steel is the main raw material for these entrepreneurs, agility is their dominant characteristic. So, when the pandemic was declared, they decided to direct their production to support the fight against the spread of the virus. The mixture of intention, knowledge and innovation resulted in the design of stainless steel disinfection tunnels, which the EU also supported, this time through the Innovation Fund. The idea is that the tunnel is placed in front of the entrance to a certain facility, and then to spray disinfectant in microdroplets – the person who passes through it is “freed” of the virus particles, and the clothes and shoes remain dry.
“A thin layer of disinfectant is created. Microdroplets can be seen in the light, and in less than a minute, everything is dry”, explained Bojan Lolić, director of Corten Art.
In addition to the immediate effects, this invention has long-term benefits – the consumption of water and disinfectants is reduced by as many as 15 times compared to a traditional disinfection system.
Through the implementation of the project supported by EU PRO, Corten Art, as part of its mandatory socially responsible activities, provided the new playground equipment for the Šabac kindergarten, and in that spirit they started their new initiative. Thus, they donated their first six constructed tunnels, one to their city of Šabac, while five tunnels were available to the Innovation Fund to install them where most needed in Serbia.
“The first tunnel was donated to the ambulance of the Health Centre in Šabac at the end of April. Shortly after that, a state of emergency was declared in Šabac, due to the increase in the number of new cases, so the donation was important for both patients and health workers”, says Lolić. Another direct donation of the disinfection tunnel was to the Institute of Neonatology in Belgrade, and Corten Art gave significant
discounts to the companies involved in socially responsible activities, so that some of the busiest COVID-19 hospitals are equipped with disinfection tunnels, including the Clinic for Infectious and Tropical Diseases “Prof. Dr. Kosta Todorović”, Institute of Rheumatology, and Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases Dedinje.
Although it had taken them only a month from the idea to the realisation and the certified disinfection tunnel, Corten Art did not stop there, but constantly worked on improving the technology so that the disinfection tunnel could easily support hydrogen peroxide (hydrogen 0.5%) as a disinfectant. “Through continuous improvement, we have become leaders in the production and our potential has been recognised by our distributors from Qatar and Slovakia. Disinfection tunnels are also the first product that we have exported”, they say in Corten Art.
Even when the pandemic ends, there will be a need for disinfection tunnels, as Lolić also estimates that disinfection at the entrance to hospitals and dental offices will certainly become a mandatory practice abroad.
Lolić adds that the support of the EU was crucial in the development of this Šabac company which today focuses its efforts on the fight against the coronavirus.
“Through the EU PRO development programme, we as a company received funds for the purchase of equipment, we created new jobs, and this type of assistance was the initial trigger for the development of our company. We would like to thank the Innovation Fund, but also the EU PRO.”
By the way, the disinfection tunnel is one of the 12 solutions for fighting the COVID-19 that were selected among 300 entries submitted for the Innovation Fund call for proposals. The Šabac-based company Corten Art, which came up with the idea of the tunnel, was awarded up to 6 million Dinars from the Fund for the realisation of the project.
(This text was originally published on the website of the Delegation of the European Union to Serbia and has been updated and shortened for the purposes of the EU PRO newsletter)