Researchers find copper and titanium oxide coatings to prevent COVID-19 spread

Green-SEAM (Surface Engineering for Advanced Manufacturing) Network based at Concordia University, Canada, is stepping up to promote antiviral metallic and ceramic coatings to slow the transmission of the virus.

They have discovered that copper and titanium oxide spray coatings can help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Copper and titanium oxide, we know, are active in killing bacteria and viruses, so they are effective materials to spray on surfaces to fight the spread of COVID-19,” notes Christian Moreau, Director of Green-SEAM and Canada Research Chair in Surface Engineering.

Any public space with high volumes of people circulating — like hospitals, industrial kitchens, nursing homes, public transport — is vulnerable to contaminated surfaces,” says Moreau, who is also director of the Concordia’s Thermal Spray and Surface Engineering Research Centre at the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science.

We want to do everything in our power to connect frontline workers with industrial coating companies and research laboratories who have solutions — be they short-term or long-term solutions.

"We have partners who can accommodate large-scale production, as well as custom surfaces applications, from handrails and door handles to countertops or much larger surfaces exposed to germs.

Established three years ago as a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Network, Green-SEAM is on a mission to integrate Canada’s surface engineering leaders into a cohesive community.

Members are researching, developing and deploying sustainable, innovative and globally competitive surface engineering solutions and the pandemic, above all else, has brought the collaborative expertise of the network into focus.

Imagine all the food trays in a nursing home or the arm rests on emergency room chairs,” says Simon Durham, Green-SEAM Network Manager.

Our partners are in a position to take advantage of network technologies and can be made ready to make these kinds of surfaces less likely to spread contaminants.

Recent work at the University of Toronto by professor and Green-SEAM member Javad Mosthaghimi has demonstrated the benefit of the copper coatings on hospital waiting-room chair armrests.

The Green-SEAM network supports key Canadian economic sectors that generate high-value jobs and are export intensive, including advanced manufacturing in aerospace, natural resource industries and renewable energy.

While healthcare is not one of their primary fields, Green-SEAM has pivoted to apply its technological expertise in that direction to identify coating opportunities in hospitals and clinics.

For the past five years, experts at the Gina Cody School have been tailoring the nano-sized structure of titanium oxide coatings to optimise their photocatalytic and filtration properties that can now be deployed for their antibacterial and antiviral capabilities.

We’re well positioned to play a contributory role this pandemic,” Moreau concludes.

We’re currently developing projects for the NSERC Alliance COVID-19 programme to look at innovative surface engineering solutions to fight this coronavirus.”

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