Engineers, Manufacturers Hope To Eliminate Future Hand Sanitizer Shortages
A chemical engineer at the University of Maine have teamed up with manufacturers in the state in an effort to ensure that a hand sanitizer and disinfectant shortage like that of 2020 never happens again.
William DeSisto, a chemical and biomedical engineering professor at the university, worked with local distillers during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to source ethanol that could be used to create emergency supplies of hand sanitizer. It was during this time that DeSisto became aware of the significant issues there were getting sanitizing products to the state when supply chains are fractured, reports Bangor Daily News.
During the search for solutions, DeSisto spoke to a dentist friend who suggested he make hypochlorous acid because the disinfectant, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says is effective against SARS-CoV-2, only requires salt water and electricity to create, making it an Earth and human-friendly option.
The one large issue with hypochlorous acid is that the process in which it is made is inefficient, says DeSisto. That's why he is working with manufacturers who want to help make the process less complex and more affordable. The manufacturers are building machines they hope will allow hypochlorous acid to be efficiently made at places like wastewater treatment plants because these facilities already use a large amount of disinfectant to take bacteria out of the water they treat.
After trying out the machines in such high-traffic situations, the manufacturers hope that they can also be used in smaller operations. In fact, they're hopeful that the machines can be used in homes and in other sites.
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