Technology designed on campus kills microbes across the country

Copper+Clean+patches+sit+on+the+east+entrance+door+handles+to+the+Sybil+B.+Harrington+Fine+Arts+Comple

Marcus Rogers

Copper Clean patches sit on the east entrance door handles to the Sybil B. Harrington Fine Arts Comple

Copper Clean is a partnership between West Texas A&M University College of Engineering and Buffalo Technology Group (BTG) products here in Canyon,TX to help self-sanitize points of contact for preventing the spread of pathogens.

The Copper Clean brand helps kill more than 99.9% of a handful of bacteria, which includes SARS-CoV-1, within two hours of exposure due to the release of copper ions. These products have been in the works since the early 2010’s and released in 2019.

Dr. Nancy Garcia, the faculty advisor for The Prairie News, shows off a Copper Clean phone case that was gifted to her by the West Texas A&M University College of Engineering (Marcus Rogers)

According to the American Society for Microbiology Journal and “The Use of Copper as an Antimicrobial Agent in Health Care, Including Obstetrics and Gynecology Review”, “Copper ions released from the surface are transported through the cell membrane via an energy-dependent transport system dependent transport system, A decreased barrier function of the plasma membrane occurs upon reaching a crucial intracellular concentration of copper ions.”

Cells of the viruses are attacked by the positively charged atom leading to the cells being broken down and being punctured by the atoms. It’s as if you were to have a water balloon having holes poked by a sharp pencil resulting in the contents falling out. In this example, the copper ions are the sharp pencil and the virus cell being the water balloon.

“The primary interest in the brand has been with high touch surfaces, so door knobs, door handles and push plates,” said Benton Allen, co-founder of Copper Clean LLC. “We’ve done some work recently in mass transit situations, so subway handles and handrails, that sort of thing.”

This partnership was a foundation moment for Copper Clean LLC, as WTAMU was the first large customer for the company. Installations around campus include the patches being placed on the door handles into buildings and other door handles. Growth has now expanded to include an installation at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, 200 installations at a Nebraska Furniture Mart location, a trail for the Toronto Transit Commission and even a recent installation at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“What we’ve done with our alloy is stabilized it by alloying it with different different metals to kind of slow down the tarnishing process, but also maintain those microbial characteristics,” Allen said.

These products are designed to last years to help protect people passing by, while also making sure they maintain the durability of the copper tone instead of oxidizing, like the Statue of Liberty to a green color. The designs of these patches are intended to last for years.

“We’ve got several different manufacturing partners within our supply chain, but it’s all processed in the US,” Allen said. “We design it here in Canyon, and we actually do all of our fulfillment from Canyon as well.”

Not only does this partnership help the United States and Canada, but they also utilize American markets to make the patches and products. From copper mining in Arizona to the processing and fulfillment in Canyon, every aspect of the movement of the supply for the products exists in the United States.

“We have yet to really break into the healthcare field, [but] that’s our biggest goal,” Allen said. “Healthcare providers, there’s a need there, and we’re trying to connect those dots and make that fit.”

With the release being in 2019, Copper Clean has not yet cracked into all the markets that their product can help service. With the Harrington Academic Hall WTAMU Amarillo Center having a large percentage of the building set for nursing education, Copper Clean is showcasing their product that can be duplicated in the medical facilities in Amarillo at Baptist St. Anthony’s Health System (BSA) and Northwest Texas Healthcare System. Over the next year Copper Clean, a WTAMU original product, might be out helping frontline workers.

“[Healthcare is] an area where we would truly be decreasing healthcare acquired infections and I mean saving lives, not to exaggerate,” Allen said

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