A schoolboy science fan and his primary school, Footsteps, are pioneering DIY low-cost, highly effective air-purifiers that help clear rooms of airborne virus particles, as well as smoke, pollen, dust, and allergens
Known as Corsi-Rosenthal Boxes, the easy-to-assemble devices are hand-made using a simple 20 inch square box fan, duct tape, cardboard and four MERV 11 filters from local company Caribbean Filtration.
Tom Osborne, aged 11, who decided to build three in one day for his school after reading about them online said “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”
In 2021 scientists confirmed that the virus causing COVID-19 was able to spread through aerosol particles that float in the air when a Covid-positive person talks, sings, coughs or sneezes, as well as 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. But HEPA residential air cleaners can be expensive for schools and community businesses to install.
Dr Richard Corsi, Dean of Engineering at the University of California, and air filtration expert Tex-Air CEO 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 Idea of the Year from the prestigious Waterloo Filtration Institute.
Corsi-Rosenthal Boxes have sparked interest in Cayman. Kim Voaden, Director of Sunrise Adult Training Centre 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. 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, Deputy Director of Cayman Islands Red Cross said:
“As we look at ways that we can continue to empower our community with not only knowledge but also tools that will help them, both to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 which is at the forefront of our minds but also more broadly, these are the types of solutions that need to be shared. 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, Director, Footsteps School said:
“The air filters are fantastic! We are really proud of Tom for his hard work and his 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.”
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.