World news – Astronauts test the surface coating to fight viruses


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February 16, 2021

from the University of Queensland

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are conducting experiments with an antimicrobial surface coating to combat the spread of bacteria and viruses.

The coating was developed by the University of Queensland and Boeing as a joint research project to inhibit viral pathogens such as the earthbound coronavirus, which is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Michael Monteiro from the Australian Institute of Bioengineering and UQ’s Nanotechnology (AIBN) said it was exciting to see research go into space after years of development.

The technology has already been tested aboard Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator as part of the company’s Confident Travel Initiative .

Mike Delaney of Boeing said that while testing continued in orbit and on Earth, the team had been encouraged by the preliminary results of the antimicrobial chemical compound.

« In conjunction with other measures to prevent the Disease transmission has the potential for widespread applicability of such a surface coating, « Delaney said. The ISS experiment tests two identical sets of objects from aircraft – including a seat belt buckle, fabric from aircraft seats and seat belts, parts of an armrest, and a tray table – with only one set receiving the antimicrobial surface coating.

About microbial growth To promote, the crew members of the space station touch both groups of objects every few days to transfer naturally occurring microbes to human skin. No microbial samples were sent to the station for this experiment.

Later this year, the test items will be returned to Earth for analysis in Boeing’s labs to measure the effectiveness of the surface coating in a space environment.

Professor Michael Monteiro said the main purpose of UQ’s antimicrobial coating is to protect space missions.

« However, following the current pandemic, we have changed the coating’s formula so that it can also target the COVID-19 virus when it hits an earth’s surface.

An antimicrobial surface coating in a spacecraft could help ensure the health of the crew and protect the spacecraft’s systems from bacteria – and ultimately help prevent interplanetary contamination by microbes on Earth or one other planets.

Boeing and UQ have been working together on a broad portfolio since 2003 samer research and development projects together.

In 2017, the Brisbane-based engineers from Boeing Research moved & Technology to the university in a unique partnership for the company’s Asia-Pacific region.

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