HKUST Develops New Smart Antimicrobial Coating in Fight Against COVID-19
Researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) have developed a Multilevel Antimicrobial Polymer (MAP-1) coating that is effective in killing viruses, bacteria and even hard-to-kill spores. MAP-1 can inactivate* up to 99.9% of highly-infectious viruses such as measles, mumps and rubella, and 99.99% of the surrogate feline calicivirus (FCV) - a gold standard for disinfection efficiency and is more resistant than coronaviruses such as the one responsible for COVID-19 epidemic.
MAP-1 coating is confirmed to be effective against drug-resistant microorganisms during two field studies in the Kowloon Hospital and Haven of Hope Woo Ping Care and Attention Home. Its use in hospital privacy curtains saw over 98.7% reduction in drug-resistant bacteria in three weeks. Beyond hospitals, the team works with the Water Supplies Department and the Drainage Services Department to field test MAP-1 in coating materials for water pipes and sewage drainages to prevent microbial contamination and infrastructure corrosion.
Developed by a team led by Prof. YEUNG King-Lun, Professor of the Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering and the Division of Environment & Sustainability, the new MAP-1 coating is highly versatile with an effective period of up to 90 days. MAP-1 coating provides lasting protection and surface disinfection against microbial contamination. This product is designed for use on different surfaces including metals, concrete, wood, glass, plastics as well as fabrics, leathers and textiles without changing the materials’ appearance and tactile feel. According to the Technical Standard for Disinfection issued by the National Health Commission in Mainland China, the coating is proven to be non-toxic and is safe for skin and the environment, hence it also allows MAP-1 to be made into hand sanitizers, paints and coating, filter materials for air and water purification, as well as clothing and surgical masks to safeguard the health of the individual and public.
The essence of new coating technology lies with the creation of surface moieties that actively disrupts the microbial envelope and biomolecules, rendering the microorganisms nonviable upon contact. The coating also prevents microbial adhesion on the surface and thus keeping it clean from microbial contaminants. Using a special blend of antimicrobial polymers, the new coating effectively kills up to 99.99% of bacteria and viruses through contact killing and anti-adhesion technology, including Rubella, avian influenza, H1N1 and FCV – a non-enveloped virus which is among the hardest to kill. According to U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) guidelines in 2016, being effective against FCV is equivalent to being able to inactivate the coronavirus – an enveloped virus which is easier to sterilize than the non-enveloped ones.
In efforts to help the society fight the COVID-19 outbreak, HKUST, in collaboration with its industrial partner Chiaphua Industries Limited (CIL), has applied the smart coating to over 70 daycare centers, elderly homes, kindergartens, primary and secondary schools. Other venues include shopping malls, school buses, churches and sports training facilities. CIL has also donated up to HK$1.5 million worth of antimicrobial air filters – a potent air purification technology developed by Prof. Yeung’s team in 2017, to various hospitals in the Mainland, including Wuhan’s emergency Huoshenshan Hospital.
“Thanks to the long-term support of our industrial partner Chiaphua Industries Ltd, our team is able to develop MAP-1 as a potent solution for infection control. We ran a seven-month field trial of the coating on privacy partition curtains in a local public hospital and six-month study on bed linens in an elderly home, and the results are very encouraging, with the total amount of bacteria reduced by over 99% and 95.8% on the curtains and bed linens respectively,” Prof. Yeung said.
This research is a classic example of co-operation among academia, industry and the government. With funding support from both CIL and the Innovation & Technology Commission (ITC), HKUST set up a joint laboratory with CIL in May 2018 to translate conceptual ideas and research on innovative environmental health technologies into tangible products to address societal needs. This coating is the first prominent finding of the lab since its incorporation.
*Inactivating a virus literally means killing it, but it’s more proper to use the word ‘inactivate’ as virus is not considered alive, they only replicate and propagate when they find a host.
About Chiaphua Industries Limited
From humble beginnings in the early 1920s as a small, privately-held metal stamping business, Chiaphua Industries (www.chiaphua.com.hk) has grown into a robust global enterprise. Chiaphua's long history has given the company a firm foundation from which to build upon for continuing success today. Over the last 50 years, Chiaphua has been involved in the manufacturing of an extensive range of industrial and consumer products, including computers, clocks, sea-freight containers, lighters, toys, silver-plated hollowware, security and telecommunications equipment, electrical appliances, motors and power tools. Chiaphua Industries' success is built on the guiding principles of integrity, harmony and partnership laid down by our founding members. These values have enabled us to forge a number of long-standing joint venture alliances with some of the world's biggest and most recognized consumer brand companies.
In addition to our joint venture partnerships, Chiaphua Industries also maintains contract manufacturing relationships with many of the world's leading brand name companies. Through this global network, we enjoy worldwide representation in the oral care, household appliances, writing instruments, telecommunications and environmental treatment markets. Besides being a manufacturing powerhouse, we are also expanding into the retail, hospitality and real estate business in recent years following our Group's success. Chiaphua Industries is a highly respected multinational and has considerable international stature. It is recognized for its entrepreneurial spirit and its strong sense of integrity, garnering the respect and loyalty of world-class customers and partners. In its continued commitment to excellence, the organization encompasses traditional values of Enterprise and Harmony. Commitment to excellence has been achieved through working closely with Chinese and overseas organizations in research and development, enabling Chiaphua to introduce innovative products to world markets.
GERMAGIC is a germicidal technology owned by Chiaphua Industries Limited. The essence of GERMAGIC technology is using encapsulation technology for controlled-release of active antimicrobials.
About The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) (www.ust.hk) is a world-class research intensive university that focuses on science, technology and business as well as humanities and social science. HKUST offers an international campus, and a holistic and interdisciplinary pedagogy to nurture well-rounded graduates with global vision, a strong entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking. HKUST attained the highest proportion of internationally excellent research work in the Research Assessment Exercise 2014 of Hong Kong’s University Grants Committee, and is ranked as the world’s best young university in Times Higher Education’s Young University Rankings 2019. Its graduates were ranked 16th worldwide and top in Greater China in Global University Employability Survey 2018.
(This news was originally published on the HKUST Public Affairs Office website.)