Driven by the need for future pandemic preparedness, the SUPREME project is funded through the EU’s Horizon Europe programme and UKRI and was initiated by the University of Birmingham. It involves 17 partners across Europe including research institutes and industry specialists.
It will focus on developing sustainable surface coatings that are equipped with both chemical and physical actions against viral and bacterial pathogens, as well as other microbes such as mould and fungi, for five different types of surfaces: textiles; metals and alloys; ceramics; paper and cardboard; and plastics.
The SUPREME consortium will develop a platform of efficient and multifunctional antimicrobial nanocoatings, building upon bespoke core-shell nanoparticles that have already demonstrated exceptional antimicrobial ability at laboratory scale.
The production of the SUPREME coatings will follow a sustainable-by-design approach that considers both toxicity and environmental impact from the outset to guarantee both market acceptance and sustainability of the overall process whilst having a robust safety assurance in place for human health.
Jason Zhang, Professor of Soft Matter Engineering, in the University of Birmingham’s School of Chemical Engineering, is principal investigator of the project. He said: “Harmful pathogens could spread upon contact with ‘high traffic’ surfaces, such as doorhandles, tables and worktops. The cleaning chemicals that we commonly use to sanitise these surfaces, while effective, are not long-lasting and they could have harmful environmental effects."
Harmful pathogens could spread upon contact with ‘high traffic’ surfaces, such as doorhandles, tables and worktops. The cleaning chemicals that we commonly use to sanitise these surfaces, while effective, are not long-lasting and they could have harmful environmental effects.Professor Jason Zhang, School of Chemical Engineering
Building upon previous projects funded by EPSRC and MRC collectively, Professor Zhang, alongside Professor Peter Fryer, Dr Zania Stamataki from Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy and Dr Yao Yao from Birmingham Business School, have been able to identify the key parameters in driving and maintaining surface hygiene, and to form a unique research competence. The multiple-disciplinary approach enables the consortium to address the technical challenges, following safe-by-design principles, to consider seriously the socio-economic impacts, and to engage with end users from the outset.
In addition to the exceptional effectiveness against microbes, the SUPREME consortium will put significant effort into ensuring that the coatings to be developed are safe to both the environment and humans, long lasting, and durable against chemical and mechanical treatment.