MBJ: Bartlett company ‘alights’ to South Korea to help MERS epidemic
In 2015, Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea, was hit with a Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) epidemic.
Meanwhile, Dylan Daniels, senior international trade specialist with the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration’s Memphis office, was in Memphis meeting with service disabled veteran business owner Clayton Poff in an attempt to get more veteran-owned business owners exporting.
Poff owns Energy Cost Reducers LLC, which handles federal contracting for Lumalier, an airborne mold, bacteria and virus killing system patented and made by Bartlett-based EvergreenUV.
UVC is a specific wavelength that pierces through the cell wall of an organism and neutralizes it by disrupting its DNA — it essentially renders mold, bacteria and viruses harmless because it cannot replicate, colonize or reproduce, said co-owner David Skelton.
The light has been around since the 1800s, typically used to disinfect water, but EvergreenUV is putting it in HVAC systems so all the air that goes through the duct is disinfected.
Back in South Korea, Samsung charged its local distributor, ANSE Corp., with finding a company that could supply UVC light to combat the MERS outbreak.
Daniels put ANSE Corp. in contact with EvergreenUV and thus an international connection was made.
About two weeks later, an ANSE rep from South Korea was sitting in EvergreenUV’s conference room in Bartlett.
A year later, Samsung decided to try high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration before investing in UVC. The HEPA filters could catch some microbes, but all viruses and most bacteria slipped right through the filter, Skelton said.
While Skelton isn’t getting a one-on-one with the Ministry of Health, Nathan Huh, a representative with the U.S. Department of Commerce in South Korea, is going to put Skelton in front of the doctors and researchers who are writing the regulations.
Skelton is traveling to Seoul, South Korea, June 11-18 to talk to a group of doctors and researchers so there is enough interest to pursue ANSE Corp., which will be EvergreenUV’s distributor in Asia.
ANSE Corp. is interested in not only buying UVC for Samsung, but other companies in major Asian cities such as Hong Kong and Japan.
EvergreenUV has an initial $600,000 in shipments insured through the Ex-Im Bank.
Skelton said, with country-wide distribution, it is hard to put a price on the opportunity, but the Samsung Hospital contract would be well over $1 million.
“MERS hit Asia and all of a sudden the phones are ringing,” Skelton said. “A few years before that it was H1N1, before that Swine Flu, before that SARS. It’s like what is the pandemic of the day?”
But with the right technology, pandemics could be yesterday’s news. Skelton’s technology has been used in schools and hospitals across the U.S. as well as risk mitigation for businesses.
“We use light to kill virus, bacteria and mold,” Skelton said. “It’s that simple.”