A 3M mask is shown in Mississauga, Ont., on Friday, April 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

A 3M mask is shown in Mississauga, Ont., on Friday, April 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Produce cleaner repurposed to sanitize N95 masks and help fight against COVID-19

The 2.4-metre long stainless steel device can sanitize 800 masks in an hour

Mark VanderVeen and his team at Clean Works were determined to work at all hours, even over Easter weekend, to get their sanitization equipment out to front-line workers.

VanderVeen, the president and CEO of Clean Works, has been in constant communication with officials from the National Research Council and Health Canada the past two weeks to make sure that the Clean Flow Healthcare Mini would be approved to sanitize N95 masks.

The Clean Flow uses technology originally developed to sanitize produce, but was approved by Health Canada last week to be sent to health-care facilities so they can start reusing the N95s, a critical piece of personal protection equipment for people who may be exposed to COVID-19.

“These guys at the NRC and Health Canada, they worked the past two weeks, I would say 24/7, with us to validate and ensure that the technology provides the health-care workers with the solutions that they need,” said VanderVeen on Monday.

“It was quite an extensive walk that we did but, again, it was to get a solution out there to health care providers.”

The 2.4-metre long stainless steel device — modelled off of a barbecue but similar in looks to a tanning bed — can sanitize 800 masks in an hour.

Clean Works, based in Beamsville, Ont., will deliver its first units to hospital health networks across Canada, including Hamilton Health Sciences and the Nova Scotia Health Authority, sometime this week. Orders for the units have also been placed by Niagara Health Region, Toronto EMS and National Research Council in Ottawa.

“You can move it from boardroom to boardroom, if that’s what’s required, or from floor to floor in hospitals and institutions,” said VanderVeen. “It’s not a big, bulky machine of any sort. It’s very portable. That’s the way that we designed it.”

READ MORE: B.C. reports 5 new COVID-19 deaths as total test positive cases near 1,700

The Clean Flow is based on a waterless process developed by Prof. Keith Warriner, who studies food sciences at the University of Guelph. It combines ultraviolet light, hydrogen peroxide and ozone to make compounds that kill pathogens, including the novel coronavirus.

Warriner had been approached in 2015 by Paul Moyer, owner of Moyer’s Apple Products and co-founder of Clean Works, because he was worried about the listeria outbreak in candy apples at the time. Warriner had been investigating waterless cleaning systems since 2005, and with Moyer he focused on the problem of sanitizing candy apples without melting or damaging the caramel coating.

When the federal and provincial governments put out a call to private businesses to help with the COVID-19 pandemic, Warriner was inspired. He and post-doctorate researcher Mahdiyeh Hasani modified the clean-flow process to handle masks instead of produce.

“It’s ideal, isn’t it?” said Warriner. “It’s a gentle process. It’s waterless, it’s effective and it’s very quick.”

Warriner says that getting Health Canada’s approval for a process like the Clean Flow could normally take months but given the urgent need for the device, it was pushed through. Testing didn’t just focus on making sure it could eradicate COVID-19, but also that the masks wouldn’t be damaged or deteriorate during the process.

Clean Works used to produce one of the Clean Flow units per week, but is now stepping up its manufacturing process to pump out more to meet the demand.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Located at 9750 West Saanich Rd., this North Saanich mansion is on the market for $10.25 million. (Realtor.ca photo)
Located at 9750 West Saanich Rd., this North Saanich mansion is on the market for $8.65 million. (Realtor.ca photo)
The five most expensive homes for sale in Greater Victoria

A roundup of luxury estates currently on the market

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely first in B.C. for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Jimmy Fallon joked that a woman’s 4.5-star review of a Langford jail is “the most Canadian thing you could do” in The Tonight Show Jan. 21. (Screenshot/YouTube)
VIDEO: Jimmy Fallon jokes Canadian jails are basically hotels following woman’s 4.5-star review

Woman gave handwritten card to police following stay in Langford cells

Sidney's Beacon Wharf
Pontoon company piqued at prospect of public-private partnership around Sidney wharf

Seagate approached to submit proposeal for public-private partnership

Following a cease work order from the District of Highlands in October, the BC Supreme Court ruled Jan. 20. that bylaws won’t apply to O.K. Industries’ work until its quarrying activity is complete. (Courtesy of District of Highlands)
BC Supreme Court rules Highlands quarry work can continue

District bylaws won’t apply until quarrying activities are complete

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
Nanaimo transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. The First Nations Leadership Council says an attempt by industry to overturn the phasing out of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands in contrary to their inherent Title and Rights. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward photo)
First Nations Leadership Council denounces attempt to overturn salmon farm ban

B.C.’s producers filed for a judicial review of the Discovery Islands decision Jan. 18

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

More than 100 B.C. fishermen, fleet leaders, First Nations leaders and other salmon stakeholders are holding a virtual conference Jan. 21-22 to discuss a broad-range of issues threatening the commercial salmon fishery. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. commercial salmon fishermen discuss cures for an industry on the brink

Two-day virtual conference will produce key reccomendations for DFO

Black Press file photo
Investigation at remote burned-out Vancouver Island cabin reveals human remains

Identity of victim not released, believed to be the owner of an SUV vehicle found parked nearby

Angela Waldick is the new team photographer for the Nanaimo NightOwls. (Nanaimo NightOwls photo)
Half-blind photographer will help new Island baseball team look picture-perfect

Nanaimo NightOwls say legally blind team photographer is making history

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Most Read