Two projects involving University of Guelph innovations are receiving funding from the Department of National Defence (DND).

Under DND’s Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program, a technology that uses high-power electromagnetic radiation to sterilize personal protective equipment (PPE) and a nanotechnology-based coating to sanitize high-touch surfaces are receiving nearly $370,000 in all.

“These innovations are fantastic examples of how the University of Guelph continues to find ways to harness our research expertise to lessen the global impact of COVID-19,” said Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research).

The IDEaS program will invest $1.6 billion over the next 20 years in innovations to help solve some of Canada’s toughest defence and security challenges. The program supports the development of solutions from conception through prototype testing and capability development.

The two U of G projects are part of 48 contribution agreements awarded under the call for IDEaS proposals worth a total of $8.64 million.

Prof. Khashayar Ghandi
Dr. Khashayar Ghandi

“These contribution agreements demonstrate investments in Canadian innovators that will help combat challenges brought on by COVID-19,” said Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. “I look forward to seeing the outcomes of these investments and how they will benefit not only the Canadian Armed Forces but all Canadians into the future.”

The program covers four specific research themes: sanitization of workspaces; pandemic decision-making; reuse of protective equipment; and moral trauma on the front line.

“We are committed to doing what it takes to face down the challenge of COVID-19,” said Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield. “These investments will support important work right here in Guelph that brings us closer to that goal.”

Chemistry professor Dr. Khashayar Ghandi will receive $169,050 to develop a low-cost, easy-to-use device for sterilizing PPE within minutes.

“This state-of-the-art technology can kill or deactivate pathogens, deodorize materials and disinfect PPE at a low cost,” said Ghandi.

The system uses novel electromagnetic-oxidative technology that kills bacteria, fungi and viruses on materials including gowns, masks, clothing and bedding so they can be reused immediately by health-care workers and first responders after disinfection.

Dr. Bill Van Heyst

Contained in a portable device, the technology is suited for use in remote locations such as medical facilities and military field sites.

“We have already shown that with electromagnetic radiation, we can use this system to disinfect surfaces exposed to bacteria, viruses and fungi,” said Ghandi, adding that military medical teams could use the technology for disinfecting other kinds of biological hazards.

Guelph-based company EnvisionSQ Inc. will receive $198,950 for technology based on research by Dr. Bill Van Heyst, a professor in the School of Engineering. The self-disinfecting coating, called GermStopSQ, kills viruses and bacteria on hard surfaces for 24 hours. It can be used on high-touch surfaces to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

GermStopSQ is adapted from novel air pollution removal technology called SmogStop. Developed by Van Heyst and Envision SQ, the technology cleans smog, industrial pollutants, cannabis odour and other airborne chemicals. A photocatalyst, or light-activated coating of chemicals, breaks down pollutants into harmless elements like nitrogen and oxygen.

“There is tremendous opportunity for application for any public spaces where transmission of SARS-CoV-2 has been prominent,” said Van Heyst. “It will have a direct impact on front-line workers and expedite the return to normalcy.”


Dr. Khashayar Ghandi

Dr. Bill Van Heyst