Hemor displayed during an exhibition in Serdang gallery. Photo courtesy of Dr Ruhaizin Sulaiman.

As dengue cases in Malaysia are on the rise, researchers from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) have invented a device that could provide a solution to the outbreak.

The device, called Sustainable Herbal Mosquito Lamp Repellent (Hemor), releases a herbal scent of lemongrass and lime peel, and emits a yellow light which is unappealing to mosquitoes.

In an interview with HE Today, a senior lecturer from the Faculty of Design and Architecture Dr Ruhaizin Sulaiman said Hemor has been proven to get rid of mosquitoes.

He said this was based on a study they conducted where the device was switched on during peak mosquito hours – between 5pm and 8pm and between 5am and 8am.

“We had a test run at several villages and housing areas in Batu Pahat, Johor where dengue cases were rampant at the time.

“We found that the mosquitoes did not enter the houses where Hemor was installed. The device is able to affect mosquitoes within a radius of 20 to 30 feet once it is switched on,” he explained.

Dr Ruhaizin Sulaiman leads the research team for Sustainable Herbal Mosquito Lamp Repellent (Hemor).

Hemor, which is made mainly out of acrylic and has a cylindrical shape, can also double as a household ornament due to its unique and beautiful design.

“Hemor functions not only as an insect repellent, it can also be used as a household ornament and also a night light,” said Dr Ruhaizin.

Its body has holes perforated all over in a design which mimics a creeping plant that allows a yellow light from a 20-watt fluorescent bulb to be emitted.

The contemporary design of Hemor makes it a suitable fit for any traditional or modern-styled house.

The scent which it emits is refreshing to humans but is unpleasant to mosquitoes as well as other insects.

A hot plate which can be controlled with a thermostat is installed in the device to heat up the lemongrass and lime peel.

The heated plate will then release the herbal aroma all over the house.

Due to its functionality and aesthetic design, Hemor was awarded a bronze medal at the Research and Innovation Design Exhibition (PRPI) UPM in 2012 and has been registered with the Industrial Design Registrar.

There are plans to commercialise the product but Dr Ruhaizin said that they would require a fund to reproduce a prototype with a higher quality as well as finding a suitable manufacturer.

“We do hope that one day we will be able to put Hemor on the market and thus help society become aware of the health benefit of the product,” he said.