School kid starts production of DIY air-purifiers

| 19/01/2022 | 11 Comments
Cayman News Service
Tom Osborne and one of his air-purifying boxes

(CNS): With COVID-19 flying around classrooms all over Cayman, one primary school student, with the help of the Sunrise Adult Training Centre, has begun the production of DIY low-cost, highly effective air-purifiers that help clear rooms of airborne virus particles, as well as smoke, pollen, dust and allergens.

Corsi-Rosenthal Boxes are easy to assemble and hand-made, using a simple 20-inch square box fan, duct tape, cardboard and four air filters. After reading about them online, eleven-year-old Tom Osborne decided to build three in one day for his school.

“They cost under eighty bucks each to make, and scientific studies show they can pull 85% of airborne virus particles out of the air. It’s a really cool way to help keep our classrooms safe and healthy, so I made a video to show people how to build them too,” Tom said.

In 2021 scientists confirmed that the virus causing COVID-19 spread through aerosol particles that float in the air when a COVID-positive person talks, sings, coughs or sneezes, and through droplet transmission. As airborne virus particles quickly build up, like cigarette smoke in indoor spaces, clean air is essential to help schools and workplaces stay open.

While residential air cleaners can be expensive for schools and businesses to install, Dr Richard Corsi, Dean of Engineering at the University of California, and air filtration expert Jim Rosenthal came up with the cheap, simple box-fan filter in August 2021. The Corsi-Rosenthal Box, plus the accompanying open-source science behind it, swiftly took off worldwide and won the ‘Idea of the Year’ award from the prestigious Waterloo Filtration Institute.

Kim Voaden, the Sunrise Adult Training Centre director, said, “This is a great way to improve air quality and help vulnerable people feel safe and stay healthy. Many of our clients have co-morbidities that make them higher risk for Covid-19. We’ve invested in a CR Box and are looking forward to Tom and his family teaching us how to make more at a workshop at Sunrise Centre next week.”

She added, “Keeping our Centre as healthy as possible and keeping our Centre open so that we can continue to serve our clients and their families, is a huge priority. We also are excited to offer a new training initiative that will enable our clients to help others in our community.”

Carolina Ferreira, the deputy director of the Cayman Islands Red Cross, said it was another tool to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

“These are the types of solutions that need to be shared,” she said. “This is something that is incredibly accessible, both in terms of cost and assembly, and Tom has done a great job demonstrating just that. I really hope that others in our community take on this project to make their schools, homes and offices safer.”

Emma Kendall, the director of Footsteps School, where Tom is a student, said the air filters are fantastic and the school is proud of him for his hard work and amazing engineering skills. “It gives us such peace of mind knowing that we’re doing everything we can to protect our students from COVID-19, with support from our wider school community,” she added.

Tom is hoping more schools and community centres will build their own Corsi-Rosenthal Boxes. “Anyone who can wrap a parcel can build one. It’s awesome to know a fun science project can help people stay healthy during a pandemic,” he said.

Learn how to build a Corsi-Rosenthal Box

See here for more on how they work

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Category: Education, Health, Local News

Comments (11)

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  1. Epicdude320 says:

    Tom is my friend

  2. Tom's Godfather. says:

    Keep up the good work Tom!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Footsteps is a wonderful school!

  4. Anonymous says:

    There should be no dislikes on this story. Well done, young man!

  5. Anonymous says:

    It’s the deadly pollution from the dump sorted.

  6. Anonymous says:

    AC filter fitted onto a fan works as well, extremely cheap.

  7. Tom’s Mum says:

    To make one of these with local materials you need
    1. 20 inch square box fan – cost $41 from AL Thompson, $50 from CostULess
    2. Four x 20 x 20 x 2 inch MERV 11 filters from Caribbean Filtration, order direct as they make them up for you (call 325 1234). Cost $9.60 per filter
    3. A roll of duct tape and scissors
    4. The cardboard fan packaging makes the base and the shroud (the circular cover to improve fan efficiency).

    Make sure the filters are arranged as a square not a rectangle with the arrows pointing in.
    Make sure you use lots of tape so there are no air leaks.
    To see a demo video made by Tom go here

  8. Kudos to the budding tinkerer/product developer says:

    Good work son! Not exactly a HEPA but surely the next best thing and much cheaper than the fancy $$$$$ contraptions the HVAC companies here are plugging.

    Maybe your Mark II version could have a microcontroller based air particle analyzer on the output with a small LED display. With this you could up your price some.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Quite enterprising of the young lad, congrats!

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