search

UMD    CORE




Firefighters Oscar Montalvo ’10, right, and Tyler Maccrone, hand at left, open a box of “Terpsanitizer,” hand sanitizer created by professors and students in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and donated to the Gaithersburg-Washington Grove Volunteer Fire Department. (Photos by Stephanie S. Cordle)

Firefighters Oscar Montalvo ’10, right, and Tyler Maccrone, hand at left, open a box of “Terpsanitizer,” hand sanitizer created by professors and students in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and donated to the Gaithersburg-Washington Grove Volunteer Fire Department. (Photos by Stephanie S. Cordle)

 

Clark School engineering faculty and students who faced the shuttering of their campus labs to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are now repurposing them to meet the urgent needs of first responders and medical professionals fighting the virus on the front lines.

Associate Professor Dongxia Liu and Assistant Professor Chen Zhang from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering have shifted their facilities and equipment to the production of hand sanitizer, while Professor and department Chair Peter Kofinas is using his own to manufacture surgical masks for doctors at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.

“There’s need for a lot of these products,” said Kofinas. “Hand sanitizers are (sold) out on shelves, so there’s need, and it’s very easy to make.”

Using a recipe from the Food and Drug Administration website, Liu and Zhang, along with graduate students Lu Liu and Zixiao Liu, are creating “Terpsanitizer” out of isopropyl alcohol and aloe vera gel for free distribution. “Isopropyl alcohol is the active ingredient to kill the germs, and the gel reduces skin dryness and irritation,” said Zhang. A small amount of essential oil provides a fragrance. Though the product is not officially FDA-approved, it follows the agency’s guidelines.

On March 25, Kofinas delivered 100 bottles of the product to firefighters with the Gaithersburg-Washington Grove Volunteer Fire Department. As production of the sanitizer continues—aided by a $10,000 commitment by longtime Clark School partner Northrop Grumman to support production costs—Liu, Zhang, and Kofinas also plan to donate it to other first responders and community members, as well as to essential UMD staff and any students remaining on campus.

“A lot of us hadn’t found any hand sanitizer for ourselves—we’re also on the ambulances and possibly exposed to this stuff,” said firefighter Oscar Montalvo ’10, who met Kofinas while training at 2nd Gear Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Laurel.

Kofinas is also leading a charge on the fabrication of surgical masks. He works with polymers, which can be spun into fibers, and his lab, which collaborates with Dr. Anthony Sandler, surgeon-in-chief at Children’s National Hospital, has adapted this technology to make surgical masks.

“It just takes a few minutes” to make the masks, said Kofinas. In a process he has already used to create an adhesive for surgery, a spray polymer forms fiber masks. They’ve devised several prototypes and plan to soon begin supplying them for use at the hospital. “We hope we can ramp it up,” said Kofinas.

This story originally appeared on Maryland Today.

Are you interested in contributing to the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering's work in response to COVID-19? Make a gift online.



Related Articles:
Maryland Engineers Receive Coronavirus Research Seed Fund Awards
COVID-19: Aerospace Engineers Contribute Needed Supplies
Protection Collections Abound for Local Health Care Workers
Student 3D Prints Personal Protective Equipment for Area Hospitals

March 25, 2020


«Previous Story  

 

 

Current Headlines

Pines: Stand in Solidarity, Unite Against Injustice

Promoting Diversity and Addressing Unconscious Bias

UMD Student Wins First Place in AIAA Region I Student Conference Paper Competition

Congratulations to Aerospace Engineering’s 2020 Honors and Award Recipients

Girguis Sedkey Receives Aerospace Distinguished Alumni Scholarship

Laura Paquin Awarded 2020 Alexander Brown Scholarship and Leadership Award

James Hall Receives Outstanding Engineering Co-op/Intern Award

Two Engineers Among 2020-2021 Distinguished Scholar-Teachers

UMD names Derek Paley as a 2020–2021 Distinguished Scholar-Teacher

Dr. Aileen Hentz Receives Clark School of Engineering’s 2019-20 Student Advising Award

 
 
Back to top  
CORE Home Clark School Home UMD Home Aerospace Engineering