The world’s first Covid-killing steel
steel that kills covid

The first Covid-killing steel has been developed by researchers at the University of Hong Kong.

As explained in the study, stainless steel products are extensively used in public areas, making it one of the most frequently touched materials. On a conventional stainless steel surface, coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) can be detected even after two days. 

So, let’s take a look at what makes this new alloy Covid-killing and how it could be used to keep us safe.


Who is behind the research?

The research was led by Professor Mingxin HUANG at the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Hong Kong (HKU), who worked in collaboration with Professor Leo Lit Man POON’s research team at the Centre for Immunity and Infection of HKU.

The paper titled “Anti-pathogen stainless steel combating COVID-19” was published in the Chemical Engineering Journal on 25th November 2021.


How was the Covid-killing steel developed?

As you know, stainless steel is usually formed when iron ore, chromium, silicon, nickel, and sometimes other materials, are melted together.

To make this new alloy, researchers added copper to the stainless steel mix.

covid killing steel
[Source: “Anti-pathogen stainless steel combating COVID-19”]


What can the Covid-killing steel do?

The anti-pathogen stainless steel with 20 wt% copper can inactivate 99.75% of SARS-CoV-2 virus within 3 hours and 99.99% within 6 hours. 

As well as being low-cost, the study concludes that this stainless steel has a long-term antimicrobial property, even if continuously damaged.

What’s more, the new alloy also exhibits an ability to inactivate H1N1 influenza A virus (H1N1), and Escherichia coli (E.coli).


How will this Covid-killing steel be used?

The team of researchers have been liaising with industrial partners to make prototypes of stainless steel products frequently used by the public, such as lift buttons, doorknobs, and handrails, in order to carry out further tests and trials.


To sum up

Conventional stainless steel has been found to exhibit no antiviral or antibacterial properties. As we go about our day to day, we touch so many stainless steel surfaces, surfaces on which  SARS-CoV-2 can be detected even after two days. 

And so this Covid-killing steel could be key to reducing the risk of transmission and combating Covid-19.