Minerals and metals to heal a sick planet
Metal Tech News commends COVID fighting innovators of 2020 Metal Tech News – January 6, 2021
Last updated 7/10/2022 at 3:01pm
2020 was a year many will not forget, from the onset of COVID-19 in the spring, to the subsequent economic instability left in its wake. A silver lining to this challenging year, however, may be the innovations and inventions developed to combat the contagion and bring certainty back into people's lives.
Turning to relatively unexplored technologies and chemistries, companies sought the natural antimicrobial powers of "medical" metals and minerals such as the natural germ-killing capability of copper, the immune system boosting powers of zinc, and the newly discovered potential of graphene.
To recognize the efforts of these pioneers in the face of a global pandemic, Metal Tech News is highlighting the companies in 2020 and their advances in technologies to help a sick planet.
The might of copper
Many companies have targeted the long-known aspects of the germ killer that is copper, more than just the meager penny, or the pipes in one's home, copper has been used by ancient civilizations to remedy ailments in patients for thousands of years.
While modern medicine has provided leaps and bounds beyond what any ancient civilization could fathom, there is a charm and a lesson to be taken from the methods of our predecessors.
Taking that lesson to heart, companies such as Teck Resources Ltd., Corning Inc., Vollebak Ltd., Copper Clothing Ltd., and Copper3D are utilizing the impressive properties of copper to diminish the threat of transmissible diseases.
With the initial struggle to provide adequate respiratory equipment, many styles of masks that incorporate copper have been developed with ongoing studies and efforts in the supply chain to make the product accessible and affordable.
Early on, Chilean company Copper3D joined the ranks of Hack the Pandemic, a global movement to provide a print-at-home 3D printed mask. With the efforts of many grassroots individuals as well as hospitals and universities, a creative commons licensed NanoHack STL file for a last resort mask was developed.
You can read more about Copper3d at Hack the Pandemic with nano copper in the March 25 edition of Metal Tech News and find the download link and further information about the Hack the Pandemic movement at https://copper3d.com/hackthepandemic/.
In line with non-standard personal protection equipment, companies like Vollebak and Copper Clothing have managed to developed articles of clothing of unique style and material using copper. While efforts to create copper clothing have been a long goal for these companies, an obvious demand came about in 2020 as many sought solutions to wait out the storm.
Beyond clothing, Copper Clothing has further options in sheets and blankets infused with copper to deter sickness while getting the much-needed rest in the case of.
Complete information about the products and services Vollebak and Copper Clothing are providing can be found at Copper materializes as post COVID style in the May 27 edition of Metal Tech News.
Stepping away from worn articles of protection, Corning Inc. out of New York along with PPG, partnered together to develop Copper Armor, a copper infused paint to coat surfaces that may host lingering bacteria or viruses.
Seeking a proactive style to lessen the risks of infection, providing a paint-based virus killer was just one of the innovative and unique ways companies sought to solve the COVID-19 pandemic.
More information can be read about Corning's paint at Copper Armor paint to slow COVID spread in the December 9 edition of Metal Tech News.
Lastly, for companies showcased by Metal Tech News in 2020, Vancouver, British Columbia-based mining company Teck Resources has gone above and beyond in assisting the global effort to slow the spread of COVID and other diseases by partnering with several hospitals in Canada and Chile to develop copper surfaces to reduce the risks of hospital acquired infections (HAIs).
Sponsoring research and development, Teck has also targeted public transportation within Vancouver, coating high-touch transit surfaces on buses and the SkyTrain with copper
Further information about the work Teck is doing can be found at Teck tests coppers antiviral powers in the November 25 edition of Metal Tech News.
Graphene takes the scene
While copper has been around to do the heavy lifting for centuries, a new contender to combat infectious diseases is taking the stage, graphite-based graphene.
Discovered in 2004, graphene boasts the same antimicrobial powers as copper, and then some.
As a 2D material, being only one atom thick, the chemical makeup of this carbon material is unique in that it is rigid, conductive, strong, clean, and extraordinarily sharp.
Beyond zapping diseases like copper, the sheer design of its atomic structure actually slices into the delicate membrane of bacteria and viruses, thus improving the capability of killing them.
Being amongst the newest and most exciting entrants into the world of material science, companies have been tinkering with graphene since its discovery. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, uses for this miracle material have exploded as graphene seems to be perfectly designed to fight this battle.
From paints to masks, inks and inhaled powders, graphene has seen an explosive number of groundbreaking uses in 2020 and the companies leading this charge have continued to churn out treasures.
Zen Graphene Solutions out of Canada has been priming the markets and the masses with potential graphene-based products to kill the virus, GrapheneCA in New York has developed a virus fighting paint, and a cohort of scientists at the City University of Hong Kong as well as Italy-based Directa Plus are making masks imbued with the virus killing powers of graphene.
For more than a decade, development of graphene has progressed at a crawl due to the difficulty in manufacturing, yet recently, new techniques have allowed much larger batches and much more frequently, to be available to develop exciting and impossible products.
Due to the small nature of graphene, incorporating it within ink or paints or even cloth similar to carbon fiber, has not proved difficult, the rock in the stream was manufacturing.
Initially partnering up with a UK-based Graphene Composites Ltd. to create a virucidal ink to be applied to N95 masks, Zen Graphene has continued to storm the front by pushing for a graphene-based antibiotic. While it is known that carbon tablets can help stomach aches, graphene tablets may be capable of treating a smorgasbord of diseases. While research is ongoing, results look promising and only time will tell at this point.
Metal Tech News has covered Zen Graphene many times as they have progressed through 2020, you can read the latest announcement regarding the antibiotic at Graphene may treat spectrum of disease in the December 30 edition of Metal Tech News as well as the latest with their N95 mask ink solution at Tests find Zen Graphene ink kills COVID in the September 23 edition of Metal Tech News.
Along the same mask category, Italy-based Directa Plus has managed to create ISO certified masks known as Graphene Plus or G+, which have been on sale since June.
Non-toxic, environmentally sustainable and skin-friendly, Directa Plus has a supply chain capacity producing 100,000 COVID-19 killing G+ masks per day, a number that would have been unheard of without the recent graphene manufacturing techniques being used to churn out viable graphene.
More information regarding Directa Plus and its G+ masks can be read at Graphene Plus infused masks kill COVID in the August 17 edition of Metal Tech News.
City University of Hong Kong, with a group of global scientists have also managed to manufacture graphene masks, while not as fashionable as G+ masks, these masks are more akin to the common ones found at a grocery store entrance in case one does not have one.
Cheap and effective, as in a 99.998% effectiveness, graphene once again shows its strength in killing germs.
The successes of CityU of Hong Kong can be read at Antibacterial graphene masks from CityU in the September 16 edition of Metal Tech News.
Similar to Copper Armor paint, New York-based GrapheneCA has developed a line of graphene-enhanced antiviral and antimicrobial paints and coatings.
Many solutions have begun to pop up, giving people something they perhaps did not think they could have during a pandemic, choices.
From tentative exploratory uses, to more than 100,000 COVID-19 killing graphene masks a day, 2020 has seen a plethora of uses for the miracle material and the new decade to come can only provide greater discoveries.
More metals drafted in COVID fight
Although copper and graphene appear to be dominating the antimicrobial market, many studies have been and are being undertaken to determine the viability of alternate minerals and metals to help against contagions.
Zinc was found to be able to help lessen the severity and duration of similar severe acute respiratory (SARS) coronaviruses by blocking the virus from multiplying in your throat and nasal passage.
The full writeup on the benefits of zinc can be read at Zinc may galvanize body against COVID 19 in the March 25 edition of Metal Tech News.
Swiss researchers sought to develop a titanium oxide membrane in a reusable protective mask along with the bacteria killing properties of UV light. Feasibly manufactured on a large scale due to the miniscule amount of titanium dioxide – in the form of nanowires – necessary to produce the mask, an estimated 80,000 masks could be produced per month, with capabilities of being sterilized and reused up to 1,000 times.
More details regarding these titanium oxide masks can be read at Titanium dioxide drafted in COVID fight in the August 26 edition of Metal Tech News.
Not mentioned above, another company using copper to protect people, in particular, athletes. The UK-based Graphene Composites Ltd. and the company G-Form partnered up to design and develop cutting-edge copper infused athletic gear. While a more niche demographic, perhaps the sports world should have jumped onto this innovation for further precautions.
The full story can be read at Gear to protect athletes from coronavirus in the June 10 edition of Metal Tech News.
Finally, researchers at Penn State University, in utilizing the remarkable power of ultraviolet light in the hopes of disinfecting masks for reusability, a material was found to possibly allow low-cost UV LEDs to fight COVID-19 and other disease.
While studies are still underway, strontium, number 38 on the periodic table, has shown in early tests to show promise in creating the UV transparent conductors necessary in large scale production and commercial application.
Complete data on this discovery can be read at COVID killing ultraviolet light discovery in the July 1 edition of Metal Tech News.
We commend you
Moving out of comfort zones and stepping up to the plate, many companies, universities, and organizations sought more than profit or fame. The COVID-19 pandemic brought change to the world, and while people are still acclimating, these groups and individuals have produced hopes for people to weather this storm.
While we have come a long way from 2020 and have further to go in 2021, the determination to create viable solutions for difficult problems is admirable.
We commend their work and hope they continue to create and help in new and exciting ways to make the world a safer and more stable place.
To those we had the privilege of covering, to those that escaped our attention, to those that deserve acknowledgement, to those that contributed, we commend you.