A SA biotech company is making disinfectant from orange juice – and it kills viruses
- A small South African Biotech company says it has made a disinfectant which can kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, including coronavirus types.
- Bizarrely the secret behind it is orange juice.
- Decont-x Vitrodx is noncorrosive and earth friendly formulation – backed with international lab testing and CSIR research.
- It’s meant for the general health industry and can be used on surfaces, medical equipment and uniforms.
- For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage.
A small South African Biotech company says it has made a disinfectant which can kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, including coronavirus types. Bizarrely the secret behind it is orange juice.
South African biotech company Biodx, along with researchers from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), have spent the last 15 years developing the disinfectant, not just for the novel coronavirus but for other pathogens.
“Conventional chemicals were falling short of controlling modern pathogenic outbreaks, for example - listeriosis, and decided to embark on a search for natural, sustainable raw materials that are new to the many pathogens encountered today,” said Burt Rodrigues, CEO of Biodx and the man behind the disinfectant.
When combined it makes a noncorrosive and earth friendly formulation that rapidly kills 99.9% of bacteria species and viruses. This disinfectant contains an active ingredient that has demonstrated “virucidal activity against enveloped viruses” which Rodrigues says encompasses coronavirus types.
The disinfectant meets stringent European and South African regulatory compliance under EN14476:2013 + A2 2019 testing - in plain English, the disinfectant is proven to meet the minimum requirement to kill most viruses within 5 minutes for surface-based disinfectant products.
Unlike chlorine-based disinfectants, Rodrigues says Vitrodx is water-based, which means that it noncorrosive and doesn’t have to be washed off straight after application. For general use, the concentration is mixed in a ratio of 1 litre to 49 litres and can be left for a maximum of 5 hours before having to reapply it.
Vitrodx is specifically formulated to conform to general health industry specifications and can be used on surfaces, medical equipment and uniforms. It is not used in operating theatres.
Rodrigues said the idea to make a natural-based disinfectant was born out of a problem when working with enzyme-based cleaners, almost 15 years ago.
“We were selling enzyme-based cleaners, at the time it was new technology that we were experimenting with for maintaining pipework and degreasing. But we were using chlorine-based chemicals as disinfectant. What we didn’t realise was it was killing the enzymes. Clients kept calling to tell us the enzymes weren’t working,” he said.
So he started looking for a natural extract that wouldn’t kill the enzymes. This along with the fact that lemons have been used as a natural disinfectant for hundreds of years and that citrus is widely produced in South Africa, made it an ideal candidate as a promising source for a locally produced natural product, said Rodrigues.
“The advantages of the biocide are that it is more natural than using conventional chlorine-based disinfectants. It also can be used at a lower concentration, as much as 100 milligrams of concentrate per litre used, rather than alcohol-based disinfectants that require 60% ethanol or above,” said Dr Lucia Steenkamp, the Principal Researcher who helped develop on the biocide formulations at the CSIR.
They produce four variant types of disinfectants meant for food, health, manufacturing and even industrial-use water. Biodx is currently under application for EU BPR registration and subsequently had products submitted for testing and verification to stringent EU NEN standards in the Netherlands.
“It is costing us R20 million and taken five years but the registration could be done in August.”
The disinfectant is made locally in Modderfontein in Johannesburg and they can supply industries during lockdown.
Biodx has financial backing form the Technology Innovation Agency and Industrial Development Corporation.
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