UAH team wins Boeing competition with garment sanitizing system

Team uses ultraviolet light to sanitize and more

The UAH team behind VioClean, a garment sanitizer, are, back row from left: technology developers Dr. Aubrey Beal, Tanya Sysoeva and Kailyn Grant; front row, from left: competition team members Andrew Zelinka, Ethan Punch (with the product) and Layla Jeries. UAH Photo, Michael Mercier.

A student team from the University of Alabama in Huntsville has won the $8,000 first prize in the Boeing New Business Challenge with a system that uses ultraviolet light to sanitize garments.

The system, called VioClean, uses UV-C light, which can kill 99.9% of bacteria in 20 minutes.

The technology behind the product was developed in a student-faculty partnership at UAH and is now in the patent process with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

“Our technology capitalizes on the germicidal properties of UV-C light to reduce bacteria to a level that does not cause foul odors in the towel or garment,” says team lead Andrew Zelinka, a mechanical engineering senior at UAH and a marketing intern with the university’s office of technology commercialization.

“Once sanitized, our product also has the ability to warm whatever is inside and apply a fresh scent for an all-around pleasant user experience,” he says, adding the product can be used for towels, clothing, shoes and more.

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The group hopes to market its product first to the residential market and later to commercial towel users like spas, barber shops and hotels.

The UV-C technology was invented by Kailyn Grant while she was duel-enrolled at UAH in fall 2021; Dr. Aubrey Beal, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Dr. Tanya Sysoeva, an assistant professor of biological science.

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