Teenager invents system to stop germs travelling around planes

Raymond Wang establishes how harmful pathogens are spread from passenger to passenger

Eleanor Ross
Tuesday 12 January 2016 12:16 GMT

A teenager has worked out how germs travel on planes - and what can be done to stop them.

In a recent TED, Raymond Wang, 17, explained how he built computer simulations to show how germs move around aircrafts at speed.

He said that as air was pumped around the cabin, pathogens were spread from passenger to passenger.

Airborne diseases including SARS and bird flu have prompted major international alerts over the past 20 years, but Mr Wang hopes his design could help restrict their spread during flights.

His device is a tiny fan which recirculates air out of the cabin rather than pumping stale air around continually.

In the TED talk, Mr Wang explains how his interest was piqued in the topic during the Ebola outbreak in 2015.

He started looking at case studies of how germs had spread, including a flight carrying a man suffering from bird flu - leaving 17 other people infected by the end of the flight.

Detachable Cabin for planes could save lives

Mr Wang explained this was because although some used air does get filtered out, the air also mixes in the centre of the cabin.

“When we sneeze, the air gets swirled round multiple times before it has a chance to go out through the filter," he said.

He explains how his filters would revolutionise air travel as the fans would create “personalised breathing zones” regardless of whether people are sitting in the aisle or in a window seat.

Mr Wang goes on to describe how his device, which he says could be implemented overnight, could save the world billions of dollars.

The SARs outbreak between 2002 and 2004 is estimated to have cost the aviation industry $40 million, and according to the World Health Organisation a flu outbreak could cost three trillion pounds to resolve.

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