2021 was a pivotal year for Zen Graphene
Zentek reflects full transformation to graphene tech company Metal Tech News – December 29, 2021
Last updated 1/11/2022 at 2:28pm
2021 has been a watershed year for Zentek Ltd., which entered the year as Zen Graphene Solutions Ltd., a mining company leveraging the unique characteristics of the graphite at its Albany project in Ontario to produce a graphene coating that is more than 99% effective at killing a broad range of bacteria and viruses, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19, and exited the year as a technology that is applying this patent-pending ZENGuard antimicrobial coating to facemasks and other personal protective equipment.
"Infection control is paramount for our healthcare industry and society as whole – and we will continue to explore all options and work diligently with our partners to bring ZENGuard-enhanced PPE to those in our highest risk environments in Canada and around the world as quickly as possible," said Zentek CEO Greg Fenton.
Going into 2021, Zentek had the results from numerous tests demonstrating that ZENGuard was 99.9% effective at killing bacteria, fungi, and viruses, even multidrug-resistant bacteria such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus), and had forged a partnership with Trebor Rx Corp. to commercially produce masks and other PPE treated with this graphene compound commercially.
While new to the mask business, Trebor Rx co-founder and CEO George Irwin is not new to making and selling safe and dependable products in Canada.
Irwin is better known for his role as the top executive of Irwin Toy, a family-owned company that has been making and selling toys in Canada for the better part of a century.
After he and his wife were infected with COVID-19 during a trip outside of Canada, Irwin decided to apply his manufacturing expertise and connections to producing PPE that not only blocked coronavirus but killed it.
Before Zentek and Trebor could deliver their ZENGuard-treated PPE to frontline workers and the public, Health Canada had to ensure that the product was safe.
"Until the department completes a thorough scientific assessment and has established the safety and effectiveness of graphene-containing face masks, it is taking the precautionary approach of removing them from the market while continuing to gather and assess information," Health Canada penned in an April advisory.
In September, Health Canada approved ZENGuard disposable face masks as ASTM level 3 medical devices, the highest rating for medical and surgical face masks according to American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards.
With ZENGuard being proven safe and effective, Zentek has now filed for an international patent for its antimicrobial formula.
"We believe our ZENGuard technology is a key differentiator in the surgical mask market given its antimicrobial properties and its ability to significantly reduce the number of viable bacteria and virus particles that pass through the mask material, said Fenton. "The unique, patent-pending science that enables these attributes is related to the bonding between the graphene oxide and silver, where the silver is chelated on its surface."
As of Christmas, Trebor Rx had received enough ZENGuard coating to treat up to 10 million masks and has the capacity to produce around 500,000 of the coated masks per day at its Collingwood, Ontario facility.
"As small as Collingwood is, right now, it's the center of the PPE innovative mask industry," said Irwin. "Our masks compete with anything in the world, that's pretty special."
With Trebor Rx manufacturing and delivering ZENGuard-treated masks to frontline workers and others, Zentek is moving ahead with other applications for the graphene made from its Albany graphite.
This includes coating other PPE such as gowns, booties, and gloves with ZENGuard; commercializing antimicrobial heating, ventilation, and air conditioning filters treated with ZENGuard; and the continued development of a rapid, ultrasensitive, and low-cost COVID-19 test that utilizes graphene.
With the development of ZENGuard filters and rapid COVID tests, Zentek is poised to build upon its watershed 2021 with more graphene-based healthcare technologies in 2022.
"Complex health care challenges require collaboration and novel solutions, and we believe nanotechnology will play an enormous role in meeting those challenges and many others," Fenton and Zentek Executive Chairman Francis Dube penned in a joint message.
That is not even mentioning the other graphene-based products the company has in the pipeline, such as a carbon-based coating that helps prevent ice from building up on aircraft, drones, and wind turbines.
"We look forward to achieving more great things with our current partners and forging new relationships in the years ahead," the Zentek executives added.