Durham firm Graphene Composites aiming to create ‘virus killing’ face masks
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
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CPI has developed a specialist offering to support SMEs looking to develop their printable electronics applications and our partnership with Business Durham has been instrumental in attracting several SMEs to locate here in the region.
It fits perfectly for us that we’re surrounded by like-minded companies at NETPark. There are a number of highly skilled people in the area who can help us grow our business. The facilities and services offered by NETPark are first class, they make office life simple and engaging.
We initially came because of the printable electronics centre but access to a highly skilled semi conductor workforce in the North East has been a key factor in us staying and growing here, as well as the value for money office space and the access to funding.
Access to quality facilities was one of the main drivers for deciding to locate the business at the NETPark. We have been able to use this as a launch pad to link into support from CPI and world-class expertise from Durham University.
The quality of the facilities at NETPark and the attitude of staff is first class. It has a really dynamic, innovative atmosphere.
The proximity to the universities and the infrastructure are very important factors. Ultimately having a presence in Europe is very valuable to us and we intend to stay at NETPark for many years to come.