Photo: Saanize

Students develop antiviral tool

Wednesday 20 May 20


Orion Pilo

Markus Iversen
Two DTU students have developed a copper-based tool to reduce coronavirus infection through contact with surfaces such as door handles and Dankort machines.

Every time you touch a door handle, you are potentially at risk of becoming infected or spreading viruses. However, Markus Iversen and Orion Pilo—two sixth-semester BEng students on the Process and Innovation programme—are set to change that.

They have developed a small tool they call the antiviral hand or ‘No Touch’ which is now the focus of their start-up—Saanize. The tool is easy to hold and has both a hook to grab handles with and a tip to press buttons.

You can either attach the tool to a keychain or to your belt clip, so that you can carry it with you at all times and use it in everyday situations to avoid coming into contact with surfaces that are used by many people. The tool is made of brass, a copper-based metal, which has been chosen for its antiviral effect and durability, says Saanize co-founder, Orion Pilo:

“Brass is strong enough to open doors and the material also ensures that the tool does not become an infection bomb.”

At the end of March, the two students began brainstorming, producing 3D drawings, and developing prototypes. Currently in production in Denmark, the brass tool is cut to shape using a water jet technique to ensure that all the profile edges are rounded off to avoid trapping dirt.

Copper breaks down virus
Tools for opening doors are nothing new. The students’ antiviral hand is made of copper alloy. The metallic ions in copper are capable of breaking down the cell walls of viruses and bacteria through a phenomenon known as the oligodynamic effect.

“Viruses and bacteria that strike the surface become unstable and therefore cannot survive for very long. In addition, we have narrowed the tool to create as small a touch surface as possible, thus minimizing the risk of spreading infection,” says Orion Pilo.

Growing interest in Saanize
When Markus Iversen and Orion Pilo developed the prototype, it was mainly family and friends who were interested in using the tool, but now that their product is in production, they can barely keep up with demand.

“We receive inquiries from companies large and small, private individuals, and schools that are interested in purchasing the tool. Several companies have also contacted us to invest in the product or to help distribute it to other countries. But right now we are focusing on targeting the Danish market,” says Orion Pilo.

The two inventors already have plans to develop more copper products which in the same way can help limit direct contact with surfaces in order to reduce the spread of viral infection.