Specialist technicians at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) are utilising their skills to create much needed hand sanitiser to help fight the spread of coronavirus.

Four members of technical staff have made 60 litres of the hand cleaning product after a request from the Lancashire Resilience Forum (LRF).

There are plans to make the sanitiser available to care homes while it will be used in the patient recovery centre, in UCLan’s Sir Tom Finney Sports Centre, if the facility is needed, and for UCLan staff and students who are still based on the Preston Campus.

Tony Dickson, a technical manager from Learning and Information Services, is one of the team who has made use of the existing chemical compounds’ stock to make the sanitiser in a teaching laboratory in JB Firth Building.

He said: “We’ve made 60 litres so far and we’ll be making another 60 litres next week. Thankfully we had enough stock in our stores to produce the first batches of the much-needed hand sanitiser and we’ve now got our fingers crossed we can get our hands on more supplies.”

The team is following a World Health Organisation recipe for two formulations – one which is isopropyl alcohol based and the other is ethanol based, both of which have final alcohol concentrations of above 75%.

He said: “We first thought about it a while ago when nationally it seemed that stock was running low, but it was only recently that we had the official request from the LRF. We then ramped up the background work, looked at formulations, risk assessments, methods and staffing and then made the first batch on Monday, 27 April.”

Logistics regarding distributing the sanitiser to local care homes are still being finalised.

Tony added: “It’s been a real team effort to get to this point and everyone is happy to be playing their part. There are people behind the scenes trying their best to source and order ingredients and bottles while the University’s Safety, Health and Environment Team and other staff are offering technical advice. We’ve got engineering staff investigating ways we can use contactless dispensing and UCLan’s Security has been great in opening up the lab when we’ve needed it.”