A Clean Flow Healthcare Mini machine is shownA Niagara-area company using a University of Guelph innovation to sanitize personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic will now scale up production with a new $2-million provincial investment.

Clean Works Medical and Pure Life Machinery will receive the funding under the $50-million Ontario Together Fund. Launched in April, the fund is intended to help businesses provide solutions or retool operations to make essential medical supplies and equipment during the pandemic.

Clean Works Medical uses “clean flow” technology developed by food science professor Keith Warriner and post-doc Mahdiyeh Hasani that enables health-care facilities to decontaminate PPE and other items for safe reuse.

The company, based in Beamsville, Ont., plans to scale up production of its Clean Flow Healthcare Mini and move production to a new facility in St. Catharines.

The portable disinfection device uses existing technology originally developed by Warriner. That innovation uses ultraviolet light (UV), hydrogen peroxide and ozone to make compounds that kill pathogens on fruits and vegetables.

Clean Works adapted the U of G technology for sanitizing PPE in April; the company now services almost 50 health-care institutions across Canada.

Prof. Keith Warriner wears a lab coat in his lab.
Prof. Keith Warriner

Each device can sanitize up to 800 N95 masks in an hour; the technology also sanitizes face shields and goggles. Batches of PPE are loaded on conveyor racks, run continuously through the unit and decontaminated in 30 seconds.

Warriner said the treatment can also be used to decontaminate electronics such as cellphones, lunch boxes and even crash helmets at a go-kart track.

“As people have understood the process better, they are more comfortable with applying it to decontaminating masks and other items,” he said. “The clean flow treatment has been approved by Health Canada and recognized by 3M, a manufacturer of N95 masks. The provincial investment to Clean Works is a further verification of the technology and raises the profile of the technology beyond Canadian borders.”

Clean Works president Mark VanderVeen said, “The Ontario Together Fund will enable us to scale up our production and triple our capacity. Our innovative disinfection devices will ensure those on the frontlines have clean PPE to continue the fight against COVID-19.”