The bus builder VDL (which has its head office in Eindhoven in the Netherlands) has developed a new ventilation system for buses and coaches. This reduces the risk of infection during a bus journey. Bus operators in both public transport and business transport have had to cope with heavy blows dealt by the corona pandemic. VDL’s air conditioning system and new filters now make buses much more corona-proof.

The company has made a name for itself in the field of innovative solutions. As an example, VDL built the German Medibuses of Deutsche Bahn. These are already being deployed in a large-scale study by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on the spread of COVID-19 in Germany. With the use of these Medibuses, researchers and doctors now have access to high-quality lab environments that can also be deployed in a variety of locations very flexibly.

Airborne transmission

The COVID-19 virus spreads in various ways. Infection often occurs via virus particles on surfaces and aerosols in the air. Currently, the basic rules of disinfecting hands, wearing face masks and keeping a distance apply on buses. Also, as much air as possible is refreshed. So the presence of virus particles is kept to a minimum.

In order to reduce the possible presence of virus particles even further, VDL Bus & Coach has developed a new air purifying technique. This Pure/Clean Air Technology is available for the Futura models. Air is actively ionized using plasma cluster ionizers. The ionized air that enters the passenger compartment via the air vents has such a high ion value that not only viruses, but also fine particulates and bacteria are rendered harmless. The modules are placed discreetly inside the vehicle’s air vents. The system is automatically activated as soon as the vehicle starts up. This ensures a continuous cleaning process. The ionization process is harmless to humans and the environment.

Upgrading recirculation filters

VDL Pure/Clean Air Technology is being installed in both the Futura and Citea models. This makes it possible to upgrade the recirculation filters of the air-conditioning system in coaches and public transport buses to an F7 rating. F7 filters reduce the number of particles with a size of up to 0.4μm by as much as 90%. This includes moisture droplets caused by talking or coughing. These droplets can be the transmission medium for smaller virus particles and are consequently completely blocked by the F7 filter.

Less air circulation

Several specific solutions have been devised for the VDL Citea (their fully-electric bus) to keep the risk of infection to a minimum. The climate system in VDL buses can also be adapted which will increase the proportion of fresh air to 100%. As a result of this modification, less air is recirculated, which reduces the chance of infection.

The bus builder from the Dutch province of Brabant has also developed various other applications aimed at protecting both drivers and passengers. These include partitions on the driver’s side and automatic disinfectant dispensers next to the doors.

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About the author

Author profile picture Arnoud Cornelissen has for many years been writing about science and technology in, among others, various Dutch newspapers.