Copper alloy kills coronavirus within 10 minutes, finds the University of Southampton and North Yorkshire engineering firm Sylatech

A team of scientists at the University of Southampton have established significant results in the elimination of Covid-19 within minutes on a copper-based alloy, demonstrating its ability to reduce coronavirus transmission rates, via commonly touched surfaces, manufactured with this metal. Working with Sylatech, an engineering business in North Yorkshire, Professor Bill Keevil, Dr Sandra Wilks and their team undertook trials using Sylatech’s copper-based alloy, MB1, which is known to have excellent antibacterial and anti-viral properties against a range of pathogens.

The study, undertaken in strict laboratory conditions, simulated the virus landing on a surface, such as it would from a cough or sneeze, and looked at how long it survived. It compared the viability of the coronavirus on stainless steel against Sylatech’s copper-based alloy.

The startling results showed that on the copper alloy, the virus viability was completely eliminated within 10 minutes. There was a 93.9% reduction in the virus within 5 minutes and yet on stainless steel, the virus remained fully infectious, with no reduction after one hour. Previous research has also shown the virus to live on stainless steel and plastic surfaces for up to 72 hours. and a recent article in The Lancet suggested that it can even survive for 7 days.

Commenting on the results, Professor Keevil said, “with the coronavirus having such a significant impact on all of our lives and with the looming risk of further spikes, it is clear that fundamental changes are required in our approach to hygiene. The antimicrobial properties of Sylatech’s copper alloy are clear in their rapid rate of virus elimination and action should be taken to capitalise on this”.

Items such as door handles, light switches, toilet levers, taps and other regularly touched surfaces all carry significant risk in spreading bacteria and viruses. Hospitals, shops, offices, airports and other locations with high human traffic, need to seriously rethink their environment and take urgent action to address the hygiene risk.

Having recently launched the KeepSafe, a personal handheld device made from its MB1 alloy, Sylatech is now progressing a number of other potential applications to further exploit the results from the study. Charlie Breese, Sylatech’s Managing Director commented, “clearly we are delighted that our copper alloy demonstrates such a strong ability to combat the coronavirus. The KeepSafe, our simple device which enables users to avoid touching handles, buttons or grabbing items unnecessarily, is a specific innovation to exploit the benefits of the material. Our design engineers stand ready, together with our specialist investment casting and CNC machining capability, to support businesses looking to create products using our MB1 copper-alloy to provide permanent changes against the virus.

It is contingent upon Government and business leaders to implement change that creates a safer environment for all of our futures.


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