At just one atom, graphene is the thinnest material known to man yet around 200 times stronger than steel. It’s also an excellent conductor of heat with fascinating light absorption abilities. These characteristics – amongst many others – have led scientists the world over to hail it as a “wonder material” since it was first forged by a group of researchers at the University of Manchester in 2004.

Now, attention has turned to whether graphene and its role in enabling FIR heating can add fighting the spread of Covid-19 to its already extensive list of credentials.

IOBAC Ltd, a UK technology company with patents and patents-pending in flooring and heating solutions, is urging the UK government and medical sector to  urgently consider whether far infrared (FIR) heating – enabled by miracle material graphene – is a secret weapon in the fight against the spread of Covid-19.

Graphene and FIR heating: how does it work?  

When encapsulated in special polymers and microspheres, graphene produces a super conductive resin. IOBAC has harnessed this combination to create a far infrared (FIR) heating solution with a myriad of environmental and potential health benefits.

Our bodies naturally radiate far infrared (FIR) energy through the skin at 3-50 microns, with most output at 9.4 microns. Far infrared rays have a wavelength 4~16 microns, which is compatible with the human body and easily absorbed for a positive impact on body systems and functions. One such positive impact – and something behind which scientific weight is building – is FIR heating’s ability to fight against the spread of infection, including Covid-19.

IOBAC CEO, Paul Woolvine, comments: “We’ve used graphene as the magical ingredient in our far infrared heating solutions for a little while now. We were well aware of its potential health benefits – reducing joint pain and inflammation by improving blood circulation, encouraging the growth of healthy cells, preventing damp and mould (to name a few). But a landmark study released in February 2020 brought to our attention this technology’s potential ability to help fight against the spread of Covid-19. It was published for peer review in August 2020 but we’d like to see further research fast-tracked since the potential benefits are so powerful.”

The study Paul refers to is Instability of Nucleic Acids in Airborne Microorganisms under Far Infrared Radiation, written by En-Jing Li (Office of Environmental Protection and Office of Radiation Protection, Peking) and We-Hong Huang’s (State Key Laboratory of Molecular Developmental Biology).

FIR impact on viruses explained

The study explored the effect of FIR radiation on the inhibition of airborne microorganisms. A summary of Li En-Jing and Wei-Hong Huang findings is as follows:

The result confirmed that double strand DNA from airborne microorganisms were stable under mild FIR radiation. However, single strand RNA was found to be sensitive to FIR radiation, indicating that RNA virus in airborne particles is instable under FIR radiation. Based on this observation, two models on the usage of FIR radiation to prevent RNA virus transmission and cure RNA virus infection were proposed, implying that FIR radiation might be a cheap, convenient, and efficient method (p.2) … As traditional immune methods take a long period to prevent and cure RNA virus infection (such as Covid-19), new convenient ways that can be used immediately in clinic are eagerly needed (p.3).[1]

Infrared radiation is an invisible form of electromagnetic energy, the wavelength of which is longer than that of visible light; too long to be perceived by our eyes. The human body experiences its energy as a gentle radiant heat which can penetrate up to 4cm beneath the skin. Its benefits? In short, it enhances the immune system by stimulating the body’s metabolism and production of white blood cells to help fight infections. There are also early hints that higher temperatures are linked to lower incidence of COVID-19.[2]

Call to arms

“This continually increasing body of evidence for FIR heating means we urgently need partners to put our technology through the necessary tests and clinical trials,” explains Paul. “The technology is ready and waiting – we just need an organisation with the knowledge and expertise to put it to good use in the healthcare industry, since IOBAC is predominantly a construction technology company.”

“We’ve seen far more left-field solutions gain traction in the UK’s national media. For example, Sky News recently published an article claiming a product found in insect repellent could kill coronavirus. The Express has also claimed that mouthwash ‘could destroy Covid-19’. That’s what we need with this. A home-grown technology with such potentially powerful properties deserves to be brought to the nation’s attention and explored in far greater detail.”

Why is this different?

This is not heat as we know it – FIR heats objects, not the air. Airborne micro-organisms are heated by FIR and become unstable (as indicated in the published report findings above). This is significant for two reasons. FIR heat isn’t blown in the same way that convection heaters would blow heat around a room, meaning that the dispersion of airborne micro-organisms is reduced. And secondly, research of the SARS coronavirus, compiled by members of the World Health Organization’s laboratory network, found that heat at 56ᴼC killed the virus quickly (at around 10,000 units per 15 minutes)[3]

Paul comments: “Most conventional heating systems are centrally managed with heat dispersed via radiator points. The underfloor heating enables most surfaces in a building (walls, tables, floors, furniture etc.)  to be coated with superconductive resin, effectively turning it into a heated surface emitting FIR heat. It can also be built into mats for application onto surfaces or patient-warming systems. As studies suggest, viruses would not survive long on a FIR heated surface.”

Growing interest

Interest in the scientific community of FIR heating’s ability to help protect against the spread of Covid-19 infection has been growing apace in recent months. For example, researchers have reported that heating N95 masks “preserves their filtration efficiency for 50 cycles of disinfection.”[4]

A study by H.Y. Lim Tung, currently in the pre-print stage, has now also been released. Similarly to Li En-Jing and Wei-Hong Huang’s study, Lim Tung’s hypothesis looks at how elevated temperature, humidity and far infrared irradiation could significantly lower the viability, infectivity and virulence of Covid-19.[5]

Whilst Marc Cohen of the Extreme Wellness Institute, Melbourne, has published Turning up the heat on Covid-19: heat as a therapeutic intervention.[6]

And recent studies by the highly reputed Hermann Rietschel Institute for Heating and Ventilation Technology and the Technical University of Berlin have also drawn interest. Professor Kriegel, head of the institute’s Department of Building Energy Systems has pointed, specifically, to how particles emitted by a person spread through a room horizontally. While traditional heating systems – using horizontal air movements – could further intensify the spread, heating systems that work without air movement, such as radiant heating systems, can “significantly reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection.”[7] This is because infrared radiant heating systems transfer heat by means of electromagnetic waves, usually called infrared rays.

“The weight of scientific opinion behind far infrared heating’s ability to protect against the spread of Covid-19 infection is too important to ignore,” continues Paul. “It’s why our call for help is more critical than ever. We feel that the capabilities of FIR heating powered by graphene technology need to be much more seriously explored, which is why we’re looking for potential partners to step forward.”

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[1] Turning up the heat on COVID-19: heat as a therapeutic intervention, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

[2] Studies Show That Infrared Heating Could Protect Against The Spread Of Covid-19 Infection, Qube

[1] Instability of Nucleic Acids in Airborne Microorganisms under Far Infrared Radiation, ResearchGate

[2] Will warm weather really kill off Covid-19? BBC News

[3] First data on stability and resistance of SARS coronavirus compiled by members of WHO laboratory network, World Health Organisation

[4] Heating could be the best way to disinfect N95 masks for reuse, Science Daily

[5] COVID-19 and SARS-COV-2 Infection and Virulence, Hypothesis II: Elevated Temperature, Humidity and Far Infrared Irradiation will significantly lower the Viability, Infectivity and Virulence of SARS-COV-2, ResearchGate

[6] Turning up the heat on COVID-19: heat as a therapeutic intervention, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

[7] Studies Show That Infrared Heating Could Protect Against The Spread Of Covid-19 Infection, Qube