DUT produces its own hand sanitiser for staff and students

By IOL Reporter Time of article published May 22, 2020

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Durban - Teams at the Durban University of Technology have been hard at work producing their own hand sanitiser which will be distributed free to staff and students when time comes for the institution to re-open.

Professor Suren Singh, the Executive Dean of the faculty of Applied Sciences said that the faculty has a wide array of expertise that could play a significant role in the fight against Covid-19.

"It was only fitting that this project be spearheaded by Professor Kugen Permaul, one of the universities leading Molecular Biologists, and Director of the BRICS consortium on Biomass Utilisation - one of only three globally - to spearhead this project," he said.

Professor Permaul, drove this project with a highly technical skilled team from the Department of Biotechnology and Food Technology at DUT comprising of three staff members, Dr Adarsh Puri, Gaositwe Makalomakwa and Siphiwengesihle Mbamali. Their passion for using science to make a difference led to the evolution of a unique product.

Permaul said the first batch of 1000 litres of hand sanitiser was produced, bottled, and labelled within four days.

The sanitiser Picture: Supplied

"A competition was held within the department to come up with a name for the hand sanitiser. FastSan was proposed by the Head of Department, Prof Feroz Swalaha, and chosen as it includes the faculty name and the 80 designates the alcohol concentration," said Permaul.

He said that the hand sanitiser was formed accordingly to the World Health Organization (WHO) specifications.

Elaborating on its effectiveness, Permaul said the FastSan 80 Hand Sanitiser uses 80% ethanol as opposed to most of the sanitisers that use 70% or lower ethanol.

“While 70% of ethanol is an effective concentration for inactivating coronaviruses and other micro-organisms, 80% ethanol is more effective. Besides the active ingredient, alcohol, a humectant has been added to moisturise hands and prevent drying out with frequent use. Hydrogen peroxide is added to sterilise the bottles and sanitiser,” said Permaul.

The first batch of 500ml spray bottles and 5-litre containers have been collected by DUT’s Covid-19 task team and will be distributed when the institution re-opens. The team is considering making smaller sizes for more portability.

The project is currently for internal use at DUT but future plans may include distribution to the community and other organisations.


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