USD’s Chemistry Department creates hand sanitizer, distributes to campus community

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VERMILLION, S.D. (KCAU) – In an effort to aid the campus community, the University of South Dakota (USD) Department of Chemistry has developed its own hand sanitizer and began distributing it campuswide.

The team that developed the product is lead by the chemistry department’s research assistant professor Aravind Baride, Ph.D., with NMR specialist Anjaneyulu Putta, research associate Bruce Gray, and laboratory storekeeper Anthony Solbach.

According to the university, the reasoning behind developing the sanitizer is two-fold: the operation keeps lab equipment in optimal working condition and helps slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Switching the equipment off for several months is not a good option if we want it to work well after this crisis is over. Our department chair, Andy Sykes, asked our team to come up with some method to protect ourselves from potentially spreading the virus as we interact with these instruments,” said Gray.

Once the department realized that USD already had access to the raw ingredients, the team created a hand sanitizer and incorporated it into their protocol to keep the typical contact surfaces disinfected.

“Our sanitizer is similar to commercial alcohol-based hand products. It’s at least 70% alcohol by volume with 1% to 2% glycerin and the rest is water. When we have to interact with one of these instruments, we disinfect our hands with this solution before and after we use it,” said Gray.

Other university employees saw this as an opportunity to distribute the disinfectant to the USD community.

Kevin O’Kelley, assistant vice president of research compliance, said USD President Sheila K. Gestring reached out to him asking if the chemistry department had the ability to make large batches of the hand sanitizer to distribute throughout campus.

“Once we were able to determine that the university had enough ingredients to make 40 gallons of sanitizer, we set up a distribution system,” said O’Kelley.

“Roughly two gallons of hand sanitizer has been distributed every day to the Muenster University Center information desk,” O’Kelley said. “USD has given out about 20 gallons of hand sanitizer, four ounces at a time.”

Due to limited supply, the hand sanitizer is only available to USD faculty, staff, and students.

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