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Chemical Engineering Journal
2021, 133783

Anti-pathogen stainless steel combating COVID-19

L.T. Liua,b, A.W.H. Chinc,d, P. Yub, L.L.M. Poonc,d,e, M.X. Huanga

Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong, PR China.


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) exhibits strong stability on conventional stainless steel (SS) surface, with infectious virus detected even after two days, posing a high risk of virus transmission via surface touching in public areas. In order to mitigate the surface toughing transmission, the present study develops the first SS with excellent anti-pathogen properties against SARS-COV-2. The stabilities of SARS-CoV-2, H1N1 influenza A virus (H1N1), and Escherichia coli (E.coli) on the surfaces of Cu-contained SS, pure Cu, Ag-contained SS, and pure Ag were investigated. It is discovered that pure Ag and Ag-contained SS surfaces do not display apparent inhibitory effects on SARS-CoV-2 and H1N1. In comparison, both pure Cu and Cu-contained SS with a high Cu content exhibit significant antiviral properties. Significantly, the developed anti-pathogen SS with 20 wt% Cu can distinctly reduce 99.75% and 99.99% of viable SARS-CoV-2 on its surface within 3 and 6 h, respectively. In addition, the present anti-pathogen SS also exhibits an excellent inactivation ability for H1N1 influenza A virus (H1N1), and Escherichia coli (E.coli). Interestingly, the Cu ion concentration released from the anti-pathogen SS with 10 wt% and 20 wt% Cu was notably higher than the Ag ion concentration released from Ag and the Ag-contained SS. Lift buttons made of the present anti-pathogen SS are produced using mature powder metallurgy technique, demonstrating its potential applications in public areas and fighting the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens via surface touching.

Keywords: Anti-pathogen, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, H1N1, Stainless steel.

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