Durban University of Technology (DUT) has produced 1000 litres of hand sanitizer: FastSan 80 which will be distributed for free to staff and students when the university re-opens.
Professor Suren Singh, the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences stated that the faculty has a wide array of expertise that could play a significant role in the fight against COVID-19.
Singh further stated that 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 Utilization (one of only three globally), to spearhead this project.
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, Mr Gaositwe Makalomakwa and Mrs Siphiwengesihle Mbamali. Their passion for using science to make a difference led to the evolution of a unique product.
“The first batch of 1000 litres of hand sanitizer was produced, bottled, and labelled in four days. A competition was held within the Department to come up with a name for the hand sanitizer. 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 further stated that the hand sanitizer was formed accordingly to the World Health Organization (WHO) specifications.
Elaborating on its effectiveness, Permaul said the FastSan 80 Hand Sanitizer uses 80% ethanol as opposed to most of the sanitizers 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 moisturize hands and prevent drying out with frequent use. Hydrogen peroxide is added to sterilize the bottles and sanitizer,” said Permaul.
The first batch of 500ml spray bottles and 5 litres 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 organizations.
Pictured in pic 1: Prof Kugen Permaul, Siphiwengesihle Mbamali, Dr Adarsh Puri, Gaositwe Makolomakw, the team from the Department of Biotechnology and Food Technology at DUT, heading the FastSan 80 Hand Sanitizer project.
Pic 2: From left to right: Gaositwe Makolomakwa, Dr Adarsh Puri, Prof Suren Singh (Exec Dean: FAS), Prof Kugen Permaul, Siphiwengesihle Mbamali, Prof Feroz Swalaha (HOD: Biotechnology and Food Technology).