Missouri Researchers Developing Coronavirus Detection System for Travelers

Researchers at Missouri S&T in Rolla, Missouri, are developing an airborne-biohazard system that could help screeners spot air travelers with lung diseases due to COVID-19.

To trigger the airborne-biohazard system, individuals would exhale into a sensor to detect viruses in the breath. If the sensor indicates a virus, the breath would be chemically tagged for further testing in a spectrometer. Researchers say the entire process would take less than a minute and could eventually differentiate between a cold, flu, or coronavirus.

“This could provide valuable information to the individual, done in private of course,” said Visiting Professor Dr. Rex E. Gerald II. “We focused on airports first to try to mitigate the impact of canceled flights in the event of a potential pandemic, which could cost billions of dollars to the airline industry.”

With each iteration of the prototype device, the research team has provided researchers in other disciplines, such as biology, chemistry, and medical research, with the opportunity to evaluate the evolving design of the sensor system. The team adjusts and modifies it based on feedback from those evaluations.

The research team hopes the system could be made widely available to the public.

What Next?