A new way to combat the Covid-19 coronavirus will be available soon. Antimicrobial agents in protective coatings can bring long-lasting disinfection to transport, automotive interiors and more. Mark Shaw, CEO of UltraTech Brands, talks to Auto Futures about the virus-killing tech that’s on its way.
Shaw first came to the automotive space with demonstrations of UltraTech’s Ultra-Ever Dry that protects vehicles, especially those in the construction sector, from the dangers of stuck-on cement and dirt. Some reviewers called it the self-cleaning car.
“Ultra-Ever Dry is a milky coating. On white cars or trucks, it’s hardly noticeable,” says Shaw.
Water, dirt, some oil, wet concrete, mud and liquids glide off Ultra-Ever Dry coated surfaces due to its chemistry and texture of pointed peaks. Ultra-Ever Dry degrades in the sun and has to be reapplied after a year or so.
In the meantime, the company has developed other products with more repelling properties for clients such as the military. Gentoo is a clear coating that not only repels water but most oils and solvents, preventing corrosion, graffiti, and soon germs.
“We’ve been working on Gentoo for four years. Gentoo is easy to apply and is expected to last for years,” says Shaw who is a winner of two Edison Awards.
A Self-Cleaning Coating
Shaw says an automaker is considering using Gentoo for the back of an SUV where mud and debris tend to stick to the windows. He describes Gentoo as making things easy-to-clean and often self-cleaning.
Gentoo is very thin (4-6 microns), super dense and durable. It can be applied by brushing, spraying, flow coating or dipping.
The Sol-gel liquid becomes a hard product like a flexible ceramic making it durable and flexible allowing for heating cooling expansion and contraction. It is clear and can be applied to clear surfaces such as safety glasses. A military client applied Gentoo to F16 aircraft canopy covers to enable the pilots to have clean clear views.
“Last year, we were asked to add an antimicrobial formula to a coating for wooden handrails for a hospital,” says Shaw.
Creating a Covid Killer
In March of this year, Shaw realised the vast need for an effective antimicrobial coating that would last.
UltraTech chemists have been busy creating a proprietary antimicrobial (AM) formula which they nicknamed, Covid-Killer.
“We tested the Gentoo AM on a coronavirus similar to Covid-19. It was killed in 5 minutes. When we get down to three minutes then it will equal other disinfectants,” says Shaw.
Like paint, Gentoo will stay on a surface for a long time. Then, as it wears down, more antimicrobial features will be activated, says Shaw. Currently, competitors’ antimicrobial coatings for the airline industry only last a month.
“Viruses are microscopic, anyone who is cleaning cannot see them and cannot tell how effective cleaning has been,” says Shaw.
“We hope to have the formula ready by the end of the year. Then it has to be approved by the EPA which may take months,” says Shaw. However, some states may waive approval or allow it faster due to the pandemic. He expects the cost of the material to 30-50 cents a square foot.
Shaw sees many possible applications of the AM formula when added to Gentoo for use as part of multistage antiviral attacks. He imagines the product applied to handrails, door handles, fast-food restaurant tables/chairs, subways, public transport stations, safety glasses, windows, school buses and maybe even rideshare vehicles.
It’s everyone’s responsibility to make the world safer going forward.
Once the antimicrobial formula is perfected it can also be added to materials and fabrics. EverShield Fabric Protection has been developed for military uniforms that can’t be washed very often in the field. It is a Durable Omni Repellant (DOR) that deflects water, food and oil. Once coated with EverShield, cola, chocolate syrup, mud and ketchup aren’t absorbed into the fabric and run off it.
When antimicrobial chemicals are added – germs won’t be sharing rides either.
“Like you have UberX you could have UberAM cars with Gentoo AM and EverShield AM on the various surfaces of the car. Riders would pay a premium knowing that viruses can’t live on the surfaces of the vehicle,” envisions Shaw. Automakers could provide antimicrobial coatings as a service or as part of the vehicle. AM products may also be used in autonomous vehicles in the future.
There has been great interest in UltraTech AM products from all over the world.
“A soccer stadium in Qatar wants the entire stadium, chairs, rails and public areas covered with our antimicrobial Gentoo,” says Shaw.
Use cases don’t stop at stadiums UltraTech AM formulas are in the works for bedding for hospitals and the hospitality industries.
Shaws sums up his philosophy this way, “It’s everyone’s responsibility to make the world safer going forward.”