A stop-Covid system

Mar­tin Mogeney­er, lec­tur­er-cum-research sci­en­tist at UTC in its TIMR lab­o­ra­to­ry, spe­cial­is­ing in par­ti­cle sys­tems and Pro­fes­sor Jérôme Robert, head of the Bac­te­ri­ol­o­gy Depart­ment and head of the Hygiene team at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hos­pi­tal in Paris, have, each in their own field, lent their sup­port to the “stop-Covid” sys­tem set up in the Allard restau­rant of chef Alain Ducasse. 

It was dur­ing the first full lock­down that these two research sci­en­tists met, at least vir­tu­al­ly, since per­son­al trav­el was impos­si­ble. The rea­son for this “con­tact”? “It was to work with Mar­tin Mor­geney­er’s team on the prob­lem of aerosols and droplets asso­ci­at­ed with Covid-19 in the air. A project designed to man­age the health safe­ty of the hos­pi­tal’s patients as effec­tive­ly as pos­si­ble. Indeed, since the begin­ning of the Covid-19 cri­sis, I have been help­ing my col­leagues in the var­i­ous depart­ments to organ­ise infec­tion pre­ven­tion and to pro­vide bet­ter care for Covid patients”, Jérôme Robert assures us.

Mar­tin Mor­geney­er agrees with him: “The col­lab­o­ra­tion came about quite nat­u­ral­ly and we start­ed to do ‘exper­i­men­tal’ work even before tak­ing on the red tape paper­work part of the project in a good spir­it of “all locked down now”. We just rolled up our sleeves and thought about what we as engi­neers could do with the doc­tors on the front line.” 

A col­lab­o­ra­tion that accel­er­at­ed with the adven­ture of Alain Ducasse’s restau­rant Allard, an insti­tu­tion in the heart of the Latin Quar­ter. Mar­tin Mogeney­er’s team was called in to test and val­i­date the qual­i­ty of the cho­sen sys­tem. “Alain Ducasse quick­ly under­stood that bar­ri­er ges­tures and dis­tanc­ing would dras­ti­cal­ly reduce the num­ber of tables avail­able. As spe­cial­ists in par­ti­cle sys­tems, we devel­oped a sys­tem that allowed us to sim­u­late all pos­si­ble per­mu­ta­tions. In short, to sim­u­late all poten­tial aerosol con­t­a­m­i­na­tion paths from table to table by repro­duc­ing the var­i­ous behav­iours of peo­ple at the table. For exam­ple, there are those who are chat­ting qui­et­ly, oth­ers who are talk­ing loud­ly or laugh­ing out loud. Tests have shown that the air qual­i­ty is opti­mal with regard to air­borne par­ti­cles and, as a side effect, aller­gens”, explains Mar­tin Morgeneyer. 

But the adven­ture began well in advance, since Alain Ducasse called on design­er Patrick Jouin, design­er of the Plaza Athénée restau­rant room, and archi­tect Arnaud Del­loye to think about a solu­tion that would save the restau­ran­t’s eco­nom­ic mod­el. A solu­tion that could only emerge through intense col­lab­o­ra­tion between his team, doc­tors and par­ti­cle specialists. 

“The lat­ter asked Pro­fes­sor Thomas Sim­ilows­ki, whom he knew well, to think about the “Covid and restau­rant” issue. As a pneu­mol­o­gist and spe­cial­ist for res­pi­ra­to­ry dis­eases, Thomas Sim­ilows­ki then asked me to sup­port him as a pre­ven­tion spe­cial­ist,” explains Jérôme Robert. 

Alain Ducasse’s deci­sion to start with this restau­rant, sym­bol of the Latin Quar­ter… “He could have tak­en a larg­er restau­rant in a large hotel, for exam­ple, but he made this choice because there are thou­sands of restau­rants of this size in France. His only con­cern being the safe­ty of the cus­tomers, he want­ed to find a solu­tion so that they would feel real­ly reas­sured and that this solu­tion would be repro­ducible. We start­ed from the premise that hand hygiene and social dis­tanc­ing were under con­trol, but that air ven­ti­la­tion and air move­ments in an enclosed space could facil­i­tate the cir­cu­la­tion of the virus from one table to anoth­er. Sprays can be stopped mechan­i­cal­ly. Hence the idea of screens between each table. There was still the prob­lem of the small par­ti­cles that remain in the air for a long time and can there­fore cir­cu­late through mechan­i­cal ven­ti­la­tion or draughts. So we and the archi­tect came up with the idea of a sort of hood, with fil­ters sim­i­lar to those in oper­at­ing the­atres, which would suck the air over each table. We still had to prove that it worked. That’s where Mar­tin Mor­geney­er and his team came in”, says Robert Jérôme. 

A stop-Covid device that has been val­i­dat­ed, in par­tic­u­lar by Uteam, a UTC sub­sidiary and the Nation­al Insti­tute for Research and Secu­ri­ty. “An inno­va­tion that Alain Ducasse wants to open up so that it can be used by the great­est num­ber of peo­ple and which could be dupli­cat­ed in all places wel­com­ing the pub­lic, for exam­ple,” con­cludes Mar­tin Morgeneyer. 

Le magazine

Juin 2023 - N°60

Une recherche tournée vers un avenir soutenable

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