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Scientists based at the University of Aukland, New Zealand have developed a way to disinfect PPE (personal protective equipment) in a shipping container unit.

The researchers tried both dry heat and UV light methods for treating using PPE. They found that UV light was unreliable on the irregular surfaces of some PPE items, which resulted in the virus remaining on equipment for up to five weeks. They concluded that dry heat is more effective, and have developed a dry heat until that is mobile, as it is based in a shipping container that can easily be transported to any site. This can save time and the cost of constructing buildings for use as disinfection facilities.

Their method makes PPE safe for reuse and recycles equipment that cannot be used again into safe waste and reusable materials. In a statement, the researchers explained that:

"We aim to close the loop on single-use PPE by completely deconstructing and converting unusable PPE waste into safe, inert, and potentially valuable products. The combination of disinfection and hydrothermal valorisation is a circular solution."

A prototype has been built and tested on the Port of Taranaki on PPE worn by health workers. This unit will be transferred to the University of Aukland to test how easy it is to transport.

The Covid-19 virus is expected to be around for a long time, which means that PPE continues to be worn in some workplaces. It is important to have efficient disinfectant systems in place so that masks can be worn several times.

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