Bar Ilan develops tech to turn tap water into coronavirus disinfectant

The disinfectant is environmentally friendly, safe for human use, and is even being investigated for use in wound care.

Water dripping from a tap (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Water dripping from a tap
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Researchers at Bar Ilan University have developed a new technology that turns tap water into a powerful disinfectant for viruses and bacteria, including the coronavirus microbe.
The disinfectant is environmentally friendly, safe for human use, and is even being investigated for use in wound care. The way that Bar Ilan's new technology was designed allows for the disinfectant to be implemented in a variety of dynamic ways in everything from disinfecting food, hand washing, or placement in air conditioners and washing machines.  
The disinfectant was tested against the coronavirus in  the lab of Prof. Ronit Sarid, of the Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences at the University.  "We examined the ability of these materials to impair herpes simplex virus type 1 infection and human coronavirus OC43. Both viruses were completely eliminated when exposed to the disinfectants for different periods of time," said Prof. Ronit Sarid, whose lab was used for testing the new technology," she said. 
She added that "the structural characteristics of OC43 are similar to those of recent SARS-CoV-2 suggesting that this virus will also be easily eliminated with this disinfectant."
The technology works through an array of nanometer-shaped electrodes with unique surface properties. The meeting between water and electrodes creates a cleaning material in a unique aquatic environment. The combination of these compounds gives rise to an effective antibacterial capability for micro-organisms, such as bacteria, spores, and of course viruses, while at the same time still being safe for macro-organisms such as skin cells.
The potential for the disinfectant to be used in treating wounds is being investigated, as it is safe for human use because it does not cause chemical burns or dry skin, unlike other harsh disinfectant chemicals. Its antiseptic capability is also 100 times that of bleach; wherein bleach requires between 5,000 to 20,000 mg of active materials to disinfectant, this only needs between 50 and 200 mg. With a  low concentration of 50 mg, the disinfectant can eliminate many kinds of viruses. 
Another added advantage of the disinfectant is that it is environmentally friendly, as it does not contaminate ground water. It remains effective for up to two months and may be sold in recyclable bottles. To enable long-term use, a fairly simple process can be applied for reusable bottled products. 
The disinfectant can also be used in a dynamic variety of ways, as the platform on which Bar Ilan's technology was based can be applied to anything from aerosol cans for surface cleaning to hand wipes and even food. This is because the ability to produce electrodes in a variety of shapes and textures makes the technology suitable to almost any application. 
Examples of these applications vary from a cassette-like device that can be placed in an air conditioner, to a container for washing fish and meat, or a disinfectant to remove pesticides from vegetables and fruit. Using it in spray aerosols means it can easily be used to disinfect surfaces, while using it in immersion containers allows for  it to be used in hand washing, or even inside washing machines. 
The ability to turn tap water into a disinfectant was patented in the Department of Chemistry and Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials at Bar-Ilan University, by  Dr. Eran Avraham, Dr. Izaak Cohen, and  Prof. Doron Aurbach, the leader of the electrochemistry group. The materials were proven effective in nuetralizing coronavirus-type viruses in Prof. Sarid's lab by  Dr. Inna Kalt and Dr. Tatiana Borodiansky Shteinberg.