Contaminated surfaces in public areas contribute to the spread of viruses, such as the coronavirus. RISE, in collaboration with Trion Tensid, is developing an antiviral formulation that can be sprayed on public surfaces to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. If everything goes according to plan, the formulation will be tested by, among others, Akademiska Hus during the first quarter of 2021.
The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is primarily transmitted via respiratory droplets. But the virus can also be transmitted via contaminated surfaces. Research studies conducted on closely related coronaviruses show that, under certain conditions, they can survive several days on surfaces and objects. For this reason, there is a need to reduce the risk of transmission via surfaces in public areas, such as handrails, lift buttons and door handles.
Surface treatment to reduce transmission
Abhilash Sugunan is a researcher and expert in nanomaterials and nanotechnology at RISE. When the coronavirus pandemic emerged, he and his colleagues started thinking about how they could help reduce the consequences of the pandemic. They concluded that a need existed to easily treat surfaces in order to prevent infection.
– “We discussed several different solutions,” says Sugunan. “Since studies have shown that the virus dies fastest on copper surfaces, we focused for a time on a solution based on copper oxide, but it was abandoned owing to the adverse environmental impact it would have.
– “Instead, we are working on a formulation in which a simple bio-based material used in the cosmetics industry is combined with disinfectants. The coating should erode in a controlled manner when the surface is touched, and a new surface is continuously created with disinfectant until the coating is gone. Right now we are working on testing different mixtures and ratios to get the ideal formulation.”
The idea is for the solution to be easily applied on surfaces during regular cleaning. No special knowledge will be necessary to apply it.
It would be wonderful if we are able to help limit the spread of the coronavirus
Collaboration with Uppsala company
The development work is being carried out in collaboration with Trio Tensid AB, an Uppsala-based manufacturing company with extensive expertise in anti-graffiti coatings and cleaning of biological compounds and paint.
– “We have collaborated well with RISE in the past, and when we were asked if we wanted to be part of this project, we thought it sounded very interesting,” says Magnus Åkerström, Head of Development at Trion Tensid. “Our role is to help formulate and develop procedures for how a potential product should be produced, marketed, and sold.
– “The development of an antiviral product feels like a natural extension of our offer and a new product segment that, unlike our other products, is also relevant in winter. The product is, of course, highly relevant at present, but should also be able to prevent transmission of other viruses such as influenza and norovirus, which means it will still be useful after a coronavirus vaccine is developed.”
Pilot project with Jernhusen and Akademiska Hus
The finished formulation will be tested in two pilot projects in collaboration with Jernhusen and Akademiska Hus. These projects will likely be carried out in the first quarter of 2021.
Akademiska Hus is granting the pilot project use of its new building A Working Lab in Johanneberg Science Park at Chalmers in central Gothenburg. The building is an arena for innovation and collaboration where the ideas and knowledge are exchanged amongst academia, industry and public sector operators.
– “A Working Lab is a vibrant testbed where the ambition is to continuously test different innovations,” says Ebba Kullin, Business Developer at Akademiska Hus. “We answered ‘yes’ when asked by RISE, and it would be wonderful if we are able to help limit the spread of the coronavirus.”
Abhilash Sugunan sees the development of the antiviral formulation as a natural step in humanity’s efforts to reduce infection:
– “Viruses and bacteria exist everywhere and people throughout history have found solutions to reduce their impact. The invention of soap is a good example. Now we are taking a new step in the same spirit of development.”