Among the best scientific pictures of the month released recently in the top international journal Nature, eight pictureswere included;the Huo-Yan (Fire Eye Laboratory;hereinafter referred to as the “Laboratory”)constructed with anair-inflated structure, which handled more than 1.2 million samples so farin Beijing’s fight against the pandemic.
The world begins to zoom in on the Laboratory again.The Laboratory, a mobile, air-inflated P2 laboratory (Second Level of Biosafety) designed anddevelopedjointly by Tongji’s College of Design and Innovation (CDI), BGI, and Shanghai Etopia Planning and Construction Consulting (SEPCC) Co., Ltd., made its debut at the China NationalGeneBank on April 3 and was technically upgraded to version 2.0 10 days later. On May 1, the Laboratory was used tofight the pandemic in Harbin with version 3.0, which was capable of processing 10,000 samples simultaneously without manual intervention.Since May 11, theLaboratory has beenusedin the fight against the pandemic overseasand has been built and used in Libreville, Gabon; Medina, Saudi Arabia; Lomé, Togo; and Nur Sultan and Almaty, Kazakhstan.Beijing’s first Fire Eye nucleic acid detecting laboratorywent into trial operationat a sports venue in Daxing District, Beijing, capital of China. Nine laboratories were put into operation officially on June 23according to the site conditions, with a daily handling capacity of 30,000 samples. On June 25, seven laboratories were added urgently with a daily handlingcapacity of more than 100,000 samples.
As of June 30, three other laboratories had been established in three cities across the country,with a total processing capacity of more than one millionsamples.The Laboratory has become a shining “brand name” of Chinain the fight against the pandemic, playing an important role in different pandemic-fighting scenarios throughout the Indo-Pacific and Middle-Eastern regions.As a core scientific and technological force inpandemic prevention and control, several teams at Tongji University have participated in its research and development.
With the national anti-pandemic situation becoming increasingly severe at the beginning of the year, WANG Jian, BGI Group co-founder and chairman, proposed to meet the Shanghai’s increasing demand for nucleic acid detectionsby building the integrated FireEye Laboratory.Soonafter, YIN Ye, CEO of BGI, and Dr. SUYunsheng, Executive Vice President of Shanghai International Institute of Design and Innovation, Tongji University and founder of SEPCC Co., Ltd., came up with the idea jointly to develop the Fire Eye Laboratorybased on the needs and problems of COVID-19 detection,as well as the features of virus transmission through thinking exchanges. Tongji’s Shanghai International Institute of Design and Innovation(SIIDI) is the scientific research transformation carrier of the Shanghai Type IVPeak Plateau Disciplines of Design, which promotes industrial transformation and upgrading through design-driven innovation.TheLaboratoryis a typical product of integrated innovation through “design thinking.”
In facing the pandemic, time is of the essence. How to build genetic detecting laboratories faster, cheaper, and more flexibly is just what was needed.The Laboratoryis a brand-new innovative product, which adopts the modular layout of an air-inflated structure and is designed strictly in accordance with the construction standard of the secondary biosafety laboratory with the features of fast setup, low transportation requirements, and a high handling capacity. It can be delivered anywhere in the world via cargo planes. The Laboratorycan meet the needs of the pandemic prevention and control in local areas and solve problems quickly that many countries and regions are unable to do without a biological safety laboratory with its energy-saving, intelligent, storable, and biodegradable advantages.
The virus control is ensured effectively in the Laboratory through the management of a closed environment, directional flow of internal air, and efficient filtration of airflow inlets and outlets.The biological detectionlaboratory built with an air-inflated structureis cost-effective and is easy to deploy and is flexible in selectinga suitable deployment site during the pandemic. For the imported cities, it can be set up near the external transportation hub; for the community-basedcities, it can be set upwithin the outbreak area andcan be relocatedafter the pandemic has ended.
Based on the challenges, requirements, and user experience, the Laboratory’s integrated innovation is as difficult as the development of a new car and requires the collaborative innovation of all components and service providers in the industrial chain.Based on the “design thinking,”five-dimensional BIM model design, and guided by the Moore’s Law innovation theory, Tongji’s interdisciplinary research and development team put forwardnew technical visions, coordinatedthe jointresearch and development between suppliers and service providers, and optimizedthe technical standardscontinuously.In just two months, the core team ofCDI,SIIDI, and SEPCC Co., Ltd.updated the P2 biological laboratory to its third edition through unremitting efforts.
In addition to the CDI, the teams from schools and colleges atTongji Universityand its alumni also participated in the research and development of the Laboratory.Prof. TANHongwei from Tongji’sSchool of Mechanical Engineering participated in the examination and approval of the construction standards as an expert of the National Pandemic Prevention and Control Experts, offeringmany valuable suggestions onHVAC(Heating,Ventilating, and Air Conditioning).Prof. TANdiscovered it isnowbelieved the coronavirus can survive briefly on the surface of an object, but its survival time in the air is unknown. Therefore,the air-conditioning systemscountermeasures can be designedregardless of whether or not the coronavirus is airborne,for improving existing measures,addingemergency countermeasures, and innormal and/or emergency situations. Healso suggested conductingthe data-driven multidisciplinary research inactual pandemic prevention and control situations.
CHEN Zili, Director of Operations of the National Institute for Innovation and Development,Tongji University, coordinated the GREE’s global service network to provide air conditioning solutions for theLaboratory. LIU Dong, Associate Professor of the School of Mechanical Engineering,Tongji University, and his team provided consultation for the HVAC design.Professors WANG Zhongpingand WEIYongqi from Tongji’s School of Materials Science and Engineering offered the formula for the fiber-reinforced concrete material that will enable the Laboratory to become a concrete-sprayed building in the future.The enterprise teams, including LIANGZhili, an EMBA student at Tongji University, were responsible for the early research and development phase of the heavy current solution and installation.Tongji University alumnus, ZENGChaojie, and other enterprise teams supported the air-inflated structure technology.Lubansoft, Tongji’s strategic cooperative enterprise, provided BIM Intelligent Construction with full-process management supportfor the innovation updating of the early Laboratoryconstruction project.Robooot provided such intelligent systems such as the light interactive intelligent door locks, contactless transfer windows, and intelligent cabin pressure control. In the process, Roboootand Tongji University developed the light interactive ring jointly. The research and development of the light interactive ring was supported strongly by YAN Wei, Vice Dean of the School of Innovation& Entrepreneurship, Tongji University,whom organized the student entrepreneurship team to participate in the research and development process.
From the configuration of the industrial chain to the final construction of the Laboratory, it was a process of constructing it from scratch, in which “design thinking” played a key role.Through the innovative understanding on the demand side, in light of the accurate insight of the user’s demand and market trend, the supply side was reorganized creatively, and the product opportunity gap for creating a new market was founded which, not only realized the innovation from product strategy to project finalization but, also established a flexible and efficient team.The Laboratory integrated the innovative science and technology ecosystem of Tongji University and accelerated the solution updating by pooling the wisdom of all to fight the global pandemic by design.It is reported that during the research and development of the Laboratory, Tongji University has also applied for two patents, namelyThe Protective Isolation System and Protective Isolation Bed Applying the System,and The Pandemic Prevention Isolation Ward and Pandemic Prevention Isolation Ward Group Applyingthe Ward,and applied for another joint patent with BGI: The Virus Detecting Laboratory Built with an Air-inflated Structure and Soil-cladding Structure Laboratory for the Virus Detecting.
It is reported the “Fire Eye” Laboratories (including the air-inflated structure version) have been set up in Beijing, Wuhan, Shenzhen, Tianjin, and in 13 other major cities across the country with a daily handling capacity of more than 160,000 samples. Moreover, more than 90 “Fire Eye” laboratories have been set up in more than 30 countries tofight the global pandemic.