A Quebec company claims to have devised a process that could render aluminium products COVID-19 proof. A3 Surfaces has been working since 2009 on a technology that incorporates and seals antimicrobial agents in aluminium surfaces and products. If it receives regulatory approval, door handles, medical equipment, grocery carts, bars on public transport, ventilation ducts could all be subject to this treatment.
Initially devised by two students, Maxime Dumont and Jocelyn Lambert, the procedure is still patent pending. The first step in the process is anodizing aluminium, a process that creates small, nanopores on the surface. These pores are then filled with an antimicrobial agent and sealed.
The technology has been tested by Canada’s National Research Council, which found that it eliminates up to 99.99% of bacteria and viruses. According to Guy Leblanc, vice president of A3 Surfaces, the treatment retains its effectiveness for years and can be reapplied.
The technology has not been tested with COVID-19 due to the fact that the only level 4 laboratory that can run the test (in Winnipeg) is swamped with doing coronavirus tests and vaccine testing.
According to initial results from independent and university laboratories, including those of McGill and Sherbrooke, aluminium treated with A3 Surfaces technology can kill microbes in seconds. Most of the existing products, known as bacteriostatic, are effective only to stop the proliferation of microbes rather than eliminate them completely.
Copper, which is a natural biocide, is currently one of the best alternatives. But the virus or bacteria can live more than four hours on copper surfaces, compared to a few seconds on the aluminium surface treated with A3S technology, claims the company.
In partnership with the Quebec government and Rio Tinto, A3S is expected to start tests at a specially constructed room in the Chicoutimi hospital. The Canadian Department of Health has yet to green light the procedure, but the company hopes to receive it soon.