Colorado State Engineers Partner with Design Firm to Bring Low Cost Disinfectant to Market

By: Marie McCarthy

Classrooms across the country sit eerily silent right now, as thousands of schools and universities have closed their doors during the coronavirus outbreak. But Colorado State University engineering students are putting in hours at the laboratory right now, as they fast-track research on a low-cost disinfectant.

The students are working on a sprayable cleaner that can wipe out the germs that cause SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19. The university has special clearance to work on the project in their Rapid Prototyping Lab.

The research in the engineering department is largely working off of advances being made at the university’s Infectious Disease Research Center. There, scientists are testing and creating possible vaccines for the coronavirus.

“What we are attempting to do is see if we can scale up [their] technology to do large-scale disinfection of surfaces,” said Bryan Willson, executive director of the CSU Energy Institute and professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in a university press release. “So think of classrooms, stadiums, auditoriums.”

The Infectious Disease department is researching the way riboflavin and UV light can be used to “deactivate pathogens.” In the coming weeks, the university says the disinfectant will be tested against real coronavirus samples in one of their highly specialized and secure research spaces.

Willson and the rest of the team hope to bring their final product to market as quickly as possible. They have partnered with a local design firm, Czero, to help them accomplish these goals.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend cleaning “high-touch” surfaces routinely. They say to use soap and water first, then disinfect with bleach solution or another EPA-registered household disinfectant.

Photo credit: Colorado State University