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Israeli scientists use waste to make hand sanitizer for fighting against coronavirus

07:52 | 13/07/2020

Prof. Hadas Mamane touts breakthrough of using low dose ozone gas to make ethanol, which she says lowers production costs and is "good for the environment".

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israeli scientists use waste to make hand sanitizer for fighting against coronavirus
Professor Hadas Mamane holds a tube containing Ethanol made from waste at the laboratory of Tel Aviv University (TAU). Photo: AFP/Jack Guez

Israeli scientists have come up with a "simple" and low-cost method to turn waste into ethanol for use as sanitizers in the battle against the novel coronavirus, reported AFP.

Professor Hadas Mamane of Tel Aviv University (TAU) and her team have been working for the past five years on recycling waste and transforming it into alcohol.

Now, in response to the global demand for hand sanitizers, they have focused on the production in Israel of ethanol to replace the need to import alcogels.

"Here we have paper residue from a factory, some straw from a zoo and grass collected from Tel Aviv municipality," Mamame said in her laboratory.

She inserted small amounts of each into a reactor and added ozone gas.

israeli scientists use waste to make hand sanitizer for fighting against coronavirus
Mamane expects to produce cheaper hand sanitizers from waste. Photo: JACK GUEZ/AFP

Ethanol has long been produced from vegetable sources such as sugar cane or corn, but in a complex and costly procedure.

"Our breakthrough in TAU managed to use low dose ozone to make this process in a much smaller and cheaper scale," the professor said.

"Now we can create ethanol in a way that is easier, cheaper, smaller and good for the environment."

She said the method devised in a joint study with Professor Yoram Gerchman of Haifa University uses small quantities of ozone on different waste products.

"We manage to show that we can produce ethanol in a simple and green way, respectful of the environment, that doesn't generate toxins," said Mamane.

She said it takes four or five days to produce alcohol from waste that undergoes the process of ozonization and the removal of enzymes and conservatives.

Israel alone produces over 620,000 tonnes of vegetable waste each year, according to Mamane, predicting a two-year timeframe for commercialization of the method.

israeli scientists use waste to make hand sanitizer for fighting against coronavirus
Professor Hadas Mamane produces Ethanol from waste at a laboratory of Tel Aviv University, July 8, 2020. Photo: JACK GUEZ/AFP
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Tony Nguyen

AFP, Times of Israel