West Texas A&M University is helping open new doors in the fight against COVID-19.
Biological warfare technology created at the school to protect soldiers from anthrax has been re-adapted and deployed across campus to protect door handles from viruses and bacteria.
Hopefull that will include coronavirus.
Soon, doors throughout the campus of the University in Canyon will have Copper Clean stickers placed over handles and push plates. These stickers will help alleviate the microbial burden on high-touch surfaces across campus.
The stickers are the newest product developed by Engineering Dean Emily Hunt and a group of the school’s graduate engineering students.
“The stickers are made with a copper-alloy that has been proven to kill 99.9 of harmful pathogens, like MSRA, Staph. auerus and E. coli within two hours,” Hunt said, adding that they will soon be tested against other pathogens, including COVID-19.
Copper is one of the oldest known anti-microbials. Applying it to high-touch surfaces was a challenge Hunt and her materials science engineering students first took on in 2016.
“We recognized way back then that there are many surfaces in the world that our hands share with others,” Hunt said. “These areas, which we call ‘high-touch,’ are very susceptible to picking up, harboring and transferring microorganisms among people.”
West Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp said, “Sometimes a complex problem requires a common sense solution. Dr. Hunt and her team deserve a lot of credit for doing their part to address the biggest problem facing the world today.”
Benton Allen, spokesman for BTG Products, manufacturers of the stickers, say they feature a very strong, durable adhesive that is designed to stay in place for up to two years.
“The patches are very easy to apply. They are, due to the longevity of the design, obviously a bit more difficult to remove, but can still be accomplished fairly quickly,” Allen said.
Allen said the stickers are optimized out of the box to fit most facility-sized pull handles and push plates, but can be easily cut to fit specialized surfaces within homes and cars.
“We will be releasing products that are specifically designed for more complex surfaces in the near future,” he said.
Allen also said there is an idea for a smaller version to be used on items such as briefcases, purses, gym bags, etc.
“We have actually had a great deal of interest in small patches that stick on the back of phones. These phone patches, which will be available soon, are designed to be functional with various phone sizes and other personal objects,” he said.
Hunt began her research into anti-microbial materials in 2009 when she was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation to pursue her ideas to protect soldiers and civilians from biological weapons of mass destruction. The Department of Defense then adopted Hunt’s ideas for use in military gas masks. Then, she and her team worked to convert the military technology into commercial and consumer applications.
West Texas A&M University will be the first customer, but Hunt said Buffalo Technology Group (a Texas limited partnership whose stakeholders include West Texas A&M, The Texas A&M system and Frontier Capital Group) is already talking to school districts across the state who are interested.
“We are in conversation with several school districts throughout the state, primarily in the DFW area. Given the dynamic nature of the education system right now, they would rather release the news independently,” Allen said.
“At a time when the whole world is more cognizant than they have ever been about the prevalence and danger of harmful microorganisms, my hope for these patches is that they are implemented in areas were large quantities of healthy, sick and immuno-compromised individuals who share high-touch surfaces,” Hunt said.
The stickers are for sale for $24.50 https://coppercleanus.com/