Beamsville, Ont.-based Clean Works builds units to sanitize N95 masks
by Alanna Fairey, Associate Editor
The machines, built by a produce sanitization firm, use UV light, hydrogen peroxide and ozone
Beamsville, Ont.-based Clean Works, a produce sanitization firm, has gone from working with fruits and vegetables to manufacturing mobile units that can sanitize N95 masks amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Having worked in the agricultural sector for four years, Clean Works first developed a waterless sanitizing system that kills pathogens and viruses from fruit called the Clean Flow Protection unit.
The sanitization process is a combination of ozone, hydrogen peroxide and ultraviolet (UV) light.
“Independently they’re good sanitizers, but when you mix them together, the three of them multiply the effectiveness,” Clean Works President and CEO Mark VanderVeen said during an interview with Canadian Manufacturing. “What happens is it creates a hydroxyl radical and that radical is what then finds the pathogen or the virus that’s resident.”
According to VanderVeen, the overall efficacy of this combination is over 99%, compared to the industry norm of about 50% efficacy.
When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), VanderVeen and his team took the concept of the Clean Flow and developed a new product.
Instead of sanitizing fruits and vegetables, the Clean Works Healthcare Mini was designed to clean personal protection equipment (PPE) for health care providers, including new and used N95 masks.
“We’ve run testing on the machine and it eliminates the viruses in the microbials on the masks,” VanderVeen explained.
PPE is placed into the Clean Works Healthcare Mini and moved down a conveyor belt into a treatment chamber, where the masks are sanitized with the help of UV light, hydrogen peroxide and ozone — just like the produce cleaner.
“We’ve made some modifications on the formulation to more effectively get into the fiber material of the masks, but it’s fundamentally the same process,” VanderVeen said. “The hydroxyl is created within the unit and that’s the active agent that does the killing of the virus.”
Humidity, temperature and dwell time are controlled throughout the entire decontamination process, which takes about 30 seconds, and approximately 1,000 N95 masks can be sanitized per hour.
Verified by Health Canada, the machine has been built to U.S. FDA requirements as well.
VanderVeen said, “We’re now working to start supplying this equipment to start re-sterilizing some of the used (N95) masks because they’re in such high demand right now.”
Clean Works is working with the Ontario and federal governments, hospitals in the region including Niagara Health and Hamilton Health, and nursing homes.
“We have the brightest, most caring and most talented people in our society, and they’re out there really caring about our health,” VanderVeen said. “They’re on the frontlines, and they’re not protected. We saw that and decided that we have got to do something that help them.”
While Clean Works’ new sanitizer will be able to assist healthcare providers in the short-term, VanderVeen shared that the unit will also prove to be useful beyond treating the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The unit isn’t just for the immediate future,” VanderVeen concluded. “It’s for continued applications in the healthcare industry.”