The HEPA filters in the Tesla Model S and X may help prevent coronavirus infections. The coronavirus has spread alarmingly fast throughout several countries recently.
The coronavirus continues to spread throughout the world and more patients are infected with it. Ross Gerber from Gerber Kawasaki wondered if the HEPA filters in the Model S and X could help prevent further outbreak.
https://t.co/Kun0s5OYSm https://t.co/Kun0s5OYSm— Walter MacVane (@EcoHeliGuy) January 27, 2020
The Novel Coronavirus
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses, which include Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), explained Al Jazeera. SARS and MERs may be familiar to a lot of people since they also spread sporadically in the past. They were both strains from the family of coronaviruses. The latest outbreak that started in Wuhan, China, was caused by a new strain called the novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV.
The current strain has already spread past China into other Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Japan, and the Philippines. There were also some patients diagnosed with the virus in Europe and North America, specifically in France and the United States.
Tesla Model S and X HEPA Filters
The World Health Organization (WHO) hasn’t deemed it appropriate to call the virus’ spread an international concern yet. However, the people living in the countries where the coronavirus has spread are distraught. If the Model S and X can help, it could bring at least Tesla owners some peace of mind.
Ross Gerber from Gerber Kawasaki wondered how effective Tesla’s HEPA filtration systems were in the Model S and X for people in China while the coronavirus continues to spread. Tesla’s premium all-electric sedan and SUV are built with hospital-grade HEPA filters for Elon Musk’s Bioweapon Defense Mode.
HEPA filters are used in hospitals and sometimes transportation—like airplanes—to keep the air free of harmful particles like bacteria, microbes, and even viruses. According to research about HEPA filters by Helmbuch et al., they are 99.97 percent efficient at collecting harmful particles in the air.
Based on Helmuch and his colleagues' study, a virus' infection rate depends on its size and how much of it is needed for a person to be infected. As a result, the effectiveness of a HEPA system depends on how much of a virus it can filter. It must be noted, however, that some viruses are so small that even HEPA filters can't catch them.
Walter MacVane answered Ross Gerber’s tweet and mentioned that the coronavirus was 120 nanometers or 0.12 microns. HEPA cabin air filters from PALL Aerospace—a company that specializes in filtration tech for aircraft—have a removal efficacy of 99.999 percent, according to the company. PALL notes that most viruses range in size from 0.01 to 0.2 miron. For example, the SARS and MERS virus were approximately 0.08 to 0.16 in size, respectively. The aircraft filtration tech company tested its filters with the MS2 Coliphage virus, and recorded a 99.999 percent efficiency.
S and X passanger compartments are sealed and in a positive pressure state. Meaning air can only enter the cabin trough the Hepa Filtration system.— Walter MacVane (@EcoHeliGuy) January 27, 2020
Anyone can claim they bought a “Hepa Filter” to install in the Model 3. But the vehicle needs to be under positive pressure.
HEPA filters in aircrafts are usually on par with those installed in hospitals. So PALL’s air filters could probably defend against the novel coronavirus--to a certain degree. If that is the case, the Model S and Model X’s filtration systems, which are hospital-grade, may prevent nCoV infection as well.
When Elon Musk introduced Bioweapon Defense Mode during the Model X unveiling, people may have laughed and thought it was just a cool feature. Unfortunately, time has shown that it may be a necessary feature as well. Between the wildfires in California and Australia and the spread of the coronavirus, the need to keep the air clean has become apparent.
Tesla's HEPA filters in the Model S and Model X may fill part of that need. Remember, the EV automaker's Bioweapon Defense Mode doesn't only keep the air inside the vehicles clean; it also cleans the air around them. The Model S and X may then prevent coronavirus infection for people within their immediate vicinity, at least through infection.
Keep in mind, however, that the nCoV can spread in other ways. WHO recommends the following to prevent coronavirus infection:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissues away immediately and wash hands;
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough;
- If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
- When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;
- The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk, or animal organs should be handled with care to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.
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Note from Tesmanian: Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the coronavirus, including the loved ones of those infected, the doctors, nurses, and other professionals who are trying their best to contain the virus. We wish a speedy recovery to those who have been infected with nCoV.
About the Author
Longtime writer and news/book editor. Writing about Tesla allows me to contribute something good to the world, while doing something I love.