Management of indigenous transport firm S.O Frimpong Transport Company (SOFT) has partnered the Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology at the School of Biological Sciences in the University of Ghana (UG) to use chlorine disinfectant toward the company’s fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Chlorine kills pathogens such as bacteria and viruses by breaking the chemical bonds in their molecules. Chlorine compounds can exchange atoms with other compounds, such as enzymes in bacteria and other cells. When enzymes come into contact with chlorine, one or more of the hydrogen atoms in the molecule are replaced. This causes the entire molecule to change shape and automatically die.
Chlorine solution is thus a remedy for disinfecting households, premises, vehicles and enclosed spaces.
A Senior Technologist at the Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology at the School of Biological Sciences, UG, Nicholas Sowah who spoke at the unveilling of the innovation, said the partnership between the department and SOFT depicts a strong collaboration between academia and industry.
He said though chlorine is a well-known disinfectant, it has widely been underutilised for industrial use in Ghana. “Companies tend to embrace the use of alcohol and ethanol for disinfection and sanitizing, which is rather an expensive option compared to the use of chlorine solution,” he explained.
For a company like SOFT, relying on the innovation of using chlorine disinfectant in the fight against COVID-19 is the best decision, the Department noted, adding: “it’s cost-effective for a company that has several fleets of vehicles to disinfect in this COVID-19 season.
“Instructively, the Department prepared three percent of chlorine into 1,500 litres of water to form a three percent chlorine solution for the company. It is worthwhile to state that the solution is environmentally friendly, not harmful to humans and animals. It was prepared through laboratory safety standards and procedures,” a statement from the department indicated.
The solution is stored in a secured polytank and is expected to last for more than six months, depending on the frequency of use. Without contamination, its efficacy in fighting pathogens never reduces. “From the polytank, it will be fetched into spraying cans and used for disinfection purposes,” Mr. Sowah noted.
The collaboration, according to the Biochemistry Department, is the first official partnership between it and an organisation outside academia. “We’ve been doing it for others, but this is the first commercial entity we are preparing this solution for, and we hope to have other companies come on board to use this method in the fight against coronavirus,” Mr. Sowah disclosed.
Chief Executive Officer of SOFT, Randolph Obeng Frimpong, said the company’s fleet of buses, trailers, tankers and offices could be exposed to COVID-19; hence management’s decision to act promptly to introduce chlorine in the fight against the virus.
“Our buses at any given time load passengers to and from their various destinations; the drivers come into contact with various people, and that poses potential threats to all staff of our company.
“We thought about the threats and decided to partner with UG’s Department of Biochemistry to introduce this sustainable method of disinfecting our buses, and premises as well. This partnership will go a long way to strengthen the partnership between academia and industry, and we hope to have more fruitful collaborations with the university,” Mr. Obeng Frimpong noted.