MANHATTAN, KS (KCTV) -- The pandemic has made schools and workplaces rethink the spaces where people live and work, including the very air around them.
At Kansas State University, a handful of students have returned to campus just before the start of classes. At the Chester E. Peters Recreation Complex, they're exercising, playing basketball and enjoying the rock-climbing wall during their last bit of downtime.
Most don't seem to notice the round, gray and white devices on the wall, mounted every 10 to 15 feet.
Derek Jackson, the KState Vice President of Student Life, said the devices are designed not to be noticed.
"They're just in the background," he said. "Part of the environment."
The university purchased the devices several years ago as a way of fighting mold.
They are designed to kill microbes in the air and on surfaces in a wide area, such as a gym. During the pandemic, the university realized their potential.
"In our residence halls we saw a lower percentage of positive cases than off cases," Jackson said. "I attribute that to many of our mitigating factors, including the Synexis products."
Synexis, based in Lenexa, is the company that manufactures the devices. The round, wall-mounted units are called "spheres." The company also makes units that fit into an HVAC system.
Eric Schlotte, the CEO of the company, said they work by converting existing oxygen and water in the air into dry hydrogen peroxide gas.
"It's highly effective against mold, viruses, other things that can cause illness," Schlotte said.
Sanitation devices have become a booming industry, but Synexis claims its products are unique in their method, creating dry hydrogen peroxide without creating ozone as a byproduct.
"We have multiple patents on this technology," Schlotte said. "We're the only company in this space with a peer reviewed paper showing the efficacy."
The devices are not designed to replace general hygiene practices like handwashing or wiping down surfaces by hand. But the peroxide gas can reach tight crevices and corners that are hard to miss, and the machines can run in the background.
Jackson said KState has installed more units this year in classroom spaces and common areas. He said the university has invested more than $2 million in the technology, with more than 1000 units across campus.
"This is a technology that at the time of building you're investing for 10, 20, 30 years for the health of the people in those buildings," Jackson said.