Smart fans to fight the pandemic
One fine day in 2016, Enrique Medina, industrial engineer and mentor of start-ups, received a visit from Héctor Puago, a mining engineer and energy specialist, who was seeking his advice for an undertaking within the Actúa UPM (Polytechnic University of Madrid) program. Consisted in producing ionic wind to cool aeronautical components. “The system is much lighter — it saves fuel and emissions—, silent, adaptable and compact,” explains Medina, who embarked on the Puego project by providing a manager profile.
They began marketing the product to refresh electronics in drones, planes, and even vehicles. They entered a program of the European Space Agency called BIC (Business Incubation Center), which financed the project with 50,000 euros (which was added to the 20,000 euros of initial capital). They added national and international recognitions, such as Phase I of the Horizon 2020 program and Futta, both from the European Commission, the latter focused on technology developed in nuclear fusion. And also the Hello Tomorrow International Award, in the aeronautical section. But in March of last year, with the economy paralyzed, his business froze. As a result of the listeriosis outbreak that emerged in a shredded meat company in the summer of 2019 in Andalusia, they realized that their technology, which uses ions, would work against bacteria and, therefore, perhaps also against the new virus. They contacted the Institute of Science and Technology of the University of León, and made a first prototype of a fan. “Our activity changed radically. We went from working for aeronautical refrigeration systems (especially for Airbus) to doing it almost full time to disinfect the air, ”says Puago, who defends the high efficiency of his product to inactivate viruses.
They began to close contracts for cleaning spaces and sterilizing objects. “We cannot say names, but we already have clients from the healthcare environment, other clients are financing it because they want to put it in vehicles. It could be used in any type of public transport, they have also called us to place it in ATMs, distilleries, warehouses, cranes, etc. ”, explains Medina. Now they are testing the efficacy of a new patent (in collaboration with the CSIC) with the alpha coronavirus, similar to SARS-CoV-2.
Cedrión has nine employees, all engineers. In 2020 it had a turnover of 130,000 euros and this year they could reach half a million. The price of each fan is around 1,000 euros, although they confess that their strong point is not marketing: “The good thing is that many companies look to us directly.” However, growth is necessarily slow. “Doing things well takes a long time and more when dealing with a biological disinfection issue. We practically have to develop a specific technology for each client ”, explains Medina.