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University of Birmingham researchers working on hand sanitiser to protect against COVID-19
Researchers work to produce hand sanitiser

The University of Birmingham is playing a vital role in helping to respond to a shortage of hand sanitiser needed by frontline social care workers to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

At the request of Public Health England, a team of technicians are working at the University’s flagship Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL) to produce urgently needed hand sanitiser for Birmingham’s social care workers.

Professor Andy Schofield, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, said: “We are working hard to deploy the University’s expertise and resources in a variety of ways to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including analysing the virus and its epidemiology.

“We are also fortunate to have world class facilities, such as our flagship Collaborative Teaching Laboratory, in which we train students in chemistry, chemical engineering, and wider engineering disciplines and formulate a wide variety of products including those found in the household.

“In response to the pandemic, and as part of our responsibilities as a Civic University, we are converting this facility to produce hand sanitiser for those working on the frontline to prevent the transmission of the virus by ensuring they can keep their hands clean.”

Dr Emma Melia, Director of Operations at the University of Birmingham’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, said: “Our technicians have been asked by Public Health England to help produce hand sanitiser for social care workers who are working with the vulnerable and elderly but are running short of supplies.

“We have gathered our supplies across campus to make hand sanitiser in line with the World Health Organization’s guidelines and we are working rapidly to get the first batches out.”

The University’s flagship Collaborative Teaching Laboratory was opened by 2016 Nobel Laureate Professor Sir Fraser Stoddart in May last year at a special event.

Bringing together practical teaching activities across a broad range of science and engineering disciplines, the Collaborative Teaching Laboratory incorporates a wet lab, dry lab and e-lab. It allows students to experience the environments they are likely to encounter in industry.

Professor Sir Fraser Stoddart was Head of the School of Chemistry at the University of Birmingham between 1993 and 1997. In 2016 he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for ground-breaking work he carried out with a group of academic colleagues.