NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — It’s not a cure or a vaccine, but it is a weapon.
EOS Surfaces in Ghent has been making tables and countertops from a special surface that blends polymer with copper for about ten years. Recent tests have shown that copper is effective in keeping coronavirus from spreading.
Workers in the company’s 20th Street factory wear respirators as they mix and pour a brown liquid infused with oxidized copper that comes from Cupron, a Richmond-based firm.
Processing turns the mixture into a hard surface, which becomes fixtures in hospitals and medical practices, where transmission of bacteria and viruses can be rampant.
Ken Trinder, CEO of EOS Surfaces, says the copper ions inside the material act as a bomb on bacteria and viruses, and that action is continuous so the surface properties don’t “wear out.”
“It’s self-sanitizing, self-cleaning, and it doesn’t need any human intervention,” he said.
Sentara Healthcare was the first to install the EOS surfaces as a clinical trial at Sentara Leigh Hospital. Those results four years ago enabled EOS to get certified as a bacteria killer from the EPA. Then, the National Institutes of Health tested copper (which is part of the countertop material EOCU) and several other materials against COVID-19.
“Since we are copper it gave us a baseline, that we know that with EOCU it will eradicate COVID-19 in four hours or less,” Trinder said.
Urology of Virginia has the surfaces installed in their offices in Virginia Beach, and so does a Chesapeake Regional Ambulatory Surgery Center, both located at 229 Clearfield Avenue.
“It is a significant barrier to infections,” said Dr. Michael Fabrizio. “Most of the infections that are acquired are on the surfaces, whether it be bed rails, hospital trays or countertops. I think this will gradually be adopted throughout all hospital systems in some way, shape or form.”
Trinder sees EOS surfaces spreading into other sectors known for places where people can catch viruses and bacteria, such as the cruise line industry, aviation, mass transit, and hospitality.
“The COVID-19 virus has spurred some of those conversations on as they reel from the economic consequences,” Trinder said.
EOS has installations across the United States, as well as in Mexico, Canada and Israel. It is also working on a project with a Veterans Administration Medical Center in Texas.