Filter that foils all known killer bugs

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Killer bugs like anthrax and tuberculosis could soon be foiled by the humble air-conditioning system, claims UK air filter specialist Energy Technique. The London Stock Exchange-quoted company is developing an air-conditioning system that will kill all bacteria and viruses passing through it.

Last week it was revealed that British hospitals are the worst in Europe for the risk of contracting antibiotic-resistant "superbug" MRSA, which can lead to pneumonia and heart problems. Outbreaks of tuberculosis and anthrax are also a big global concern.

The new product will filter out bugs and pass UV (ultra-violet) light over them. UV rays can kill bacteria and viruses at the correct strength. A prototype is expected to be ready by March, which will then be tested for its ability to kill pathogens at the government biological weapons laboratories in Porton Down.

It is hoped the product, a portable system that costs £2,000 to £3,000, will be on the market by the summer. As well as commercial offices, the product could be particularly popular with hospitals, doctors' surgeries and government buildings.

Energy Technique, which has installed air-conditioning in the House of Commons and London's Tower 42, is linking up with Suvair, a specialist in UV light, to develop the project, which will be announced tomorrow.

"It will kill any airborne viruses and bacteria, including anthrax and the MRSA superbug. It will also kill moulds and fungi, which are dangerous to people with diseases such as asthma," said Energy Technique's business development director, Joseph Tufo.