University produces hand sanitiser for Bristol’s key workers

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By Teddy Coward, Third Year English

The team are looking for more suppliers to help them increase their production of the isopropanol-based solution.

A group of academics, researchers and technicians from the University of Bristol’s School of Chemistry is producing hand sanitiser for Bristol’s key workers.

In almost two weeks, the team have produced more than 1000 litres with the help of other University Schools and Bristol-based suppliers.

The team are now looking to produce 4000 litres of sanitiser over the next three weeks | University of Bristol School of Chemistry

The team of around eight to ten 'core' people have so far provided two batches to Bristol City Council who have then been co-ordinating the distribution to key workers via their Local Resilience Forum (LSF).

Led by Professor Tim Gallagher, Dean of the Faculty of Science, their target is now to produce 4000 litres of sanitiser over the next three weeks. They are using a isopropanol-based solution, which is one of two formulas for sanitiser recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Professor Gallagher told Epigram he was 'hugely indebted' to those that have already helped and that, among those involved, 'nobody has said no'.

'Everything I’ve asked of people, they have said ‘And, how much more do you want? Our technical staff, our academic colleagues, all those different functions in the University – I’ve never sensed that I’m not pushing at an open door. I think everybody feels this is a time to pull together.

The team are looking for more suppliers who can help them produce the isopropanol-based solution | University of Bristol School of Chemistry

'All we’re doing is applying the skills and particularly the facilities we have access to, to do something we can do pretty efficiently and safely.'

Professor Gallagher, along with Professor of Bioengineering Adam Perriman, had begun 'laying the groundwork to scale this [operation] up long before we went into lockdown', initially making small batches in their respective basements at home.

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'We thought we needed to gear up and be ready,' he says, 'because the message from most governments was that [the UK] was behind the curve. This is all about covering a gap in the supply chain. This is a component of PPE, essentially, and there’s a lag in the system to catch up.'

The team are now looking for more suppliers to help them increase their production, particularly those who can source isopropanol, which it is 'getting harder to get'.

Around eight to ten "core" people are involved | University of Bristol School of Chemistry

While companies that have so far helped have been based in Bristol, Professor Gallagher insists suppliers don’t have to be 'limited to the city – if anyone has connections that will help.'

The Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, has expressed his gratitude to the University of Bristol for their help in combating the ongoing pandemic and said the equipment will be going directly to those on the frontline, especially to those working in care homes.

'This is another great example of Bristol pulling together during a crisis,' he added, 'and I’d like to thank everyone across the city who has volunteered their time and expertise in recent weeks in response to the virus.'

Featured image: University of Bristol School of Chemistry


Do you know any suppliers who may be able to help source materials for the production of hand sanitiser?

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