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Small Biz Grant Funds Covid-19 Disinfectant Spray

Spray bottle

(chezbeate, Pixabay)

10 Sept. 2020. A Florida start-up company is developing a fast-acting disinfectant spray that dries on contact, yet still kills Covid-19 viruses on surfaces. Kismet Technologies LLC in Winter Park, Florida, with labs at University of Central Florida in Orlando, are developing the disinfectant spray, funded by one-year $255,536 small-business award from National Science Foundation.

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus responsible for Covid-19 infections is spread largely through the air, but can also be transmitted when human hands come in contact with the virus accumulating on surfaces. As a result, public health authorities recommend frequent hand washing to prevent becoming infected. Current disinfectants, say the Florida researchers, require 30 seconds to 10 minutes to take effect, often requiring the target surface to remain damp during that time.

Kismet Technologies founder Christina Drake says a faster acting disinfectant spray that dries immediately is needed to be useful to homes and businesses.”We are creating,” says Drake in a UCF statement, “a rapid-acting disinfectant spray that will disinfect faster than current disinfectants and that leaves behind a temporary, yet continually, disinfecting film post application.” She adds, “Leaving surfaces wet for minutes in high traffic areas, while people are present and shopping, is just not practical.”

Drake is 2007 Ph.D. recipient in materials science from UCF, studying under Sudipta Seal, the materials science department chair. Drake, Seal, and UCF medical school virologist Griffith Parks are collaborating with Kismet Technologies on the disinfectant spray.

Seal’s lab studies nanoscale rare-earth oxides, including cerium oxide, which the group’s research shows can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation to aid diabetic wound healing, as well as display antibiotic properties. While cerium is labeled a rare earth, it’s an abundant mineral, mined for decades and used in pharmaceuticals and industrial materials.

In the project, Drake and colleagues plan to produce and demonstrate a prototype spray that forms a temporary, but immediate-acting disinfectant film when sprayed on surfaces. The team expects to build the spray around cerium oxide nanoparticles, and leave behind a film with protective oxidizing agents known as hydroxl radicals. Parks’s group at UCF will test the spray on SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses.

“We’ve been working on using these nanoparticles to kill cancer cells and other things,” notes Seal, “and we thought, why not create a separate formulation that can hopefully deactivate the virus in the same way, using its [oxidative reduction] ability.”

If the tests show the spray is effective, the researchers plan to submit the material to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for approval.

The award is a Small Business Technology Transfer or STTR grant made under the agency’s small business set-aside programs NSF calls America’s Seed Fund. STTR grants support collaborative industry-academic research projects.

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