A cutting-edge company in County Durham is spearheading a project that is aiming to use hi-tech materials to develop new protective equipment for use in the battle against coronavirus.
Graphene Composites, which is based at NETPark in Sedgefield, has been working on a graphene ink that can be applied to face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to provide added protection against coronavirus.
The company’s staff are currently working from home but it is hoping to re-open the Centre for Process Innovation where it is based so they can progress the project.
The company’s CEO Sandy Chen has appealed for help from other companies with the project and has already received a number of offers.
Once the firm has developed and tested what he describes as coronavirus-killing graphene ink technology, he wants to work with existing manufacturers and others keen to collaborate, to integrate it into masks and other PPE.
As part of that plan, he has launched a rallying call to all organisations that can work with him, and has documents ready to send out detailing how the graphene ink would work and how it would be developed and deployed.
An email sent out on Sunday to investors and contacts has already resulted in scores of responses and he said a leading US Ivy League university has also joined the team.
In the US, he is in discussions with leading local and federal authorities, and he wants to generate similar momentum in the UK and Europe.
He said: “We’ve got experience in functionalising graphene and in ‘doping’ – attaching things to the surface of graphene – and one of the things we noticed was that with something called silver nano particles, become more virucidal – as in kill off virus – the smaller you make it.
“What we want to do is put the silver nano particles on the surface of graphene nanoplatelets which can then be put onto face masks and all other personal protective equipment (PPE).
“It’s been a hectic day. Since we put out the email to investors we’ve had dozens of positive responses from PPE manufacturers, pharmacologists, NHS doctors and other relevant people who are very interested in it.
“And we want to hear from more – from anyone who is interested in collaborating and cooperating with is to fight this coronavirus.
“Obviously it’s far more important for us to work together now, rather than trying to figure out who gets the patent.
“Frankly I don’t care about who gets the patent, or any of the commercial aspects of this – I think we should all just care about working together to beat this virus.
“I’m also looking to make contact with our local MP who can help us get back into the laboratory. At the moment the CPI is closed, which makes it very hard to run a laboratory, but it can be reopened if this is classed as a national priority.”
News source: Business Live