Within recent years there has been a need for improved, anti-microbial, technologies which can be used to combat microbial resistance. Over the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become increasingly clear that such technologies need to also extend to the prevention of viruses. Like many scientific advances it is possible to look to nature to find an answer. Hypochlorous acid is a naturally produced, essential chemical, within the body: created by the white blood cells during phagocytosis, to eliminate pathogens as part of the immune system. This can be replicated on an industrial scale through an electrolysis process, which splits aqueous salt solutions into their ionic species (anolytes and catholytes). As a result, it is possible to separate the anolyte (hypochlorous acid), however, such chemical species are meta-stable. Unfortunately, unlike in the body where they are used immediately, this poses a challenge to their long-term use.
This industrial-academic research project will focus on better understanding these new anti-infective materials, formulating them into everyday healthcare products, which can be used to disinfect hands and surfaces. In particular, the work will focus on understanding the underpinning science which governs their physicochemical roles and their interactions with added components, in order to improve stability.