URA to install gadget to curb virus spread in 2,000 households

Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Urban Renewal Authority will install a gadget developed by students that automatically refills drainage pipe U-traps for 2,000 households to help prevent the spread of viruses.

In a blog post yesterday, managing director Wai Chi-sing wrote that the URA has decided to put into production the basic version of the “U-trap Refill Automator” developed by students from the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education.

“I am grateful to the IVE team for accepting the URA’s proposal and giving the URA the right to use and produce the device, which allows us to look for a suitable supplier and manufacturer through tender,” Wai wrote.

“The device is expected to be installed in about 2,000 households in four URA resettlement buildings and redevelopment projects first in the middle of this year, in order to step up the ability of our tenants living in URA flats to fight the pandemic.”

The URA will also work closely with the manufacturer over the next three months to ensure the invention is successfully produced as scheduled, according to Wai.

The device earned the IVE team a Gold Award in a competition co-organized by the URA, which provided professional advice for the device to be developed further.

The URA has also lent two vacant residential units at the eResidence for the team to conduct on-site tests on the device’s shape, size, capacity and installation.

The team has also conducted detailed tests on water level monitoring and automatic water filling efficiency according to actual housing environments and drainage designs in order to enhance the stability and reliability of the device.

“After about one month of testing, the team has confirmed that the device is suitable for different types of household drainage, and is able to automatically refill water into the U-trap of drainage systems,” Wai said.

“This would reduce the risk of viruses entering the flat, as the drainage pipes dried up due to residents forgetting to fill the U-trap in the drainage pipes to ensure a water seal.”

The student team said the U-trap is an important sanitary device that connects the sanitary facilities in a residential unit to the common drainage pipe of the building, and that the water seal in the U-trap is used to block viruses and foul smells from entering homes from drainage pipes.

The team has also come up with a second-generation of the design with newly installed Internet of Things components, which not only allow users to set a timer for the device to refill water, but can also check its status and receive notifications on a mobile application.