17-year old Raymond Wang, from Canada has invented a small fan that changes how air circulates on a plane, minimising bacteria transfer between passengers.
The young innovator’s idea, should it be taken up by airlines, may also limit the spread of more deadly illnesses such as H1N1 strain flu and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Mr Wang claimed that his idea – for which he has already filed a patent – would allow each air passenger a “personalised breathing zone”, minimising the risk of picking up a disease in flight.
Using a computer model and “throwing in a bunch of physics”, he found that swirling airflow in a conventional passenger cabin heightened the risk of disease-carrying particles spreading between passengers.
The innovator said that the Ebola outbreak had prompted him to investigate how bacteria travelled between passengers on planes and ways to prevent disease spread, explaining how easily passengers risk breathing in air and water particles sneezed out by other individuals during air travel.
Mr Wang said that his invention – a small, fin-shaped device that increases fresh airflow on an aeroplane and redirects air particles that may contain pathogens out of circulation – could be installed overnight for a cost of less than $1,000 per plane.
“You can see that the results we get [with the device installed] are absolutely amazing,” he told his TED audience.
“With the middle passenger sneezing again, we notice this time that we can effectively push this [contaminated air] down for elimination.”
Mr Wang last year won $75,000 for the idea, which he claims would improve the availability of fresh air in the cabin by 190 per cent, he said, and would reduce the concentration of airborne bacteria by more than 50 times.
He plans to take his idea through the necessary testing and flight trial systems to decrease the level of disease transmission during air travel.