The need to quickly and effectively disinfect large, high-traffic public spaces with safe substances has slowed the opening of sports stadiums, theaters, cinemas, military bases, railway and bus stations, airports, schools and shopping malls and requires the frequent cleaning of places that could be infected with COVID-19. 

But now, Israeli academics who have turned tap water into a safe disinfectant have joined with a company in Karmiel in northern Israel named RD Pack, to incorporated the disinfectant solution in a sanitary tunnel it developed to promote hygiene and safer entrance to public places around the world.

The disinfection and sanitation tunnel sprays the water-based solution to provide maximum protection against bacteria and viruses, including corona-type viruses, for people and objects. 

Over the next month, the Sport Palaces of Tel Aviv Yafo Ltd. – a municipal company owned by the Tel-Aviv-Yafo Municipality that manages sports and cultural facilities including Bloomfield Stadium – will house the tunnel at the entrance to the stadium as part of a pilot program until the end of the soccer season. Researchers at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan (near Tel Aviv) appeared on Tuesday at the stadium with representatives of the company, RD Pack, to show journalists how it works.

The patented technology, developed a year ago and tested on COVID-19 at the Baruch Padeh-Poriah Medical Center in Tiberias, will become available to manufacturers who purchase the knowhow from BIU. RD Pack acquired the technology from Bar-Ilan University to create the water disinfectant and is now applying it. 

The antiseptic tunnels are designed to disinfect humans and objects through an aerosol system that splashes the antiseptic for maximum protection of people passing through the tunnel. The aerosol heads are located on the sides of the tunnel for maximum coverage of the space and maximizing disinfection efficiency. They fully disinfect those who enter the space and all the contact surfaces, including those not directly exposed to the sprays, thereby helping to fight the spread of disease and create a clean public space. This, says the company, will allow a safe return to activity with a crowd.

Maor Benjamini, director of TA-Jaffa Sports Center commented: “We are delighted to reopen Bloomfield Stadium and host the Premier League games while maintaining the guidelines that will ensure the health of players and teams. We set ourselves the goal of being at the forefront of technology and exploring advanced measures such as the unique disinfection tunnel, to maintain health and to accelerate the return of the audience to the stands.”

Prof. Doron Aurbach and colleagues at the university’s chemistry department and the Institute for Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials used electrodes to turn water into a simple disinfectant that eliminates viruses and bacteria and avoids the environmental damage of existing disinfectants. Working with Dr. Eran Avraham and Dr. Izaak Cohen, Aurbach was able to adapt water technology as a means of fighting pathogens; extensive tests on the product’s effects on pathogens were conducted by Dr. Inna Kalt and Dr. Dr.Tatiana Borodianskiy Shteinberg of Sarid’s lab in the university’s Faculty of Life Sciences and proven to kill the new coronavirus.

Tap water was put through a controlled electrochemical process and stored as disinfectant in recycled or multi-purpose containers. The result was a safe material that could be used not only on hands but also on clothing, air conditioners, handles, curtains, beds and surfaces of any kind. When one removes a face mask and gloves, they too can be sprayed and safely reused, the team said – eliminating the need for alcohol gel that causes the skin to dry out.

The antiseptic produced from water are 100 times more effective than bleach and therefore has a low concentration of between 50 and 200 milligrams per liter of the ingredients to achieve neutralization activity (unlike bleach, which needs between 5,000 and 20,000 mg\l). This means they are much more environmentally friendly. The liquid does not cause corrosion, and most importantly: at a concentration of 50 mg of which is a very small amount of an active substance; it does not cause skin burns or painful and itchy rashes. The possibility that these disinfectants are very effective in treating wounds is also being investigated. 

When stored in containers without electrodes, the disinfectant can be used for up to two months and can be sold in recyclable bottles. When stored in reusable bottles, electrodes can be added to turn water, using a simple electrical process, into disinfectant for long-term use. 

Prof. Ronit Sarid, who researches viruses at Bar-Ilan, is conducting a study of various types of pathogens. “We are investigating the ability of substances to hamper the infectious power of the type-1 herpes simplex virus and of the OC43 human coronavirus that causes relatively mild respiratory infection in humans,” she explained. “The two viruses were completely neutralized when exposed to Prof. Aurbach’s disinfectant. The structure of OC43 is similar to that of SARS-COVID-19 that recently broke out, so it is possible to reach the conclusion that this virus too will easily be neutralized by the water-based disinfectant,” she concluded.