Rishi Gupta, civil engineer and University of Victoria associate professor, is studying various metals and materials in hopes of creating pathogen-resistant washbasins for use in public spaces. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Rishi Gupta, civil engineer and University of Victoria associate professor, is studying various metals and materials in hopes of creating pathogen-resistant washbasins for use in public spaces. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

UVic research team creating virus-resistant washbasins for post-pandemic world

Civil engineer Rishi Gupta hopes basins will be installed in public spaces

When most people think about reducing germs, they don’t think about the petals of lotus flowers.

But that’s exactly what’s inspiring University of Victoria researcher Rishi Gupta in his quest to create the perfect handwashing station for the prevention of COVID-19 and other viruses.

“We know – COVID or not – hand washing is the number one method to control the spread of any virus,” Gupta said.

The civil engineer and associate professor typically studies concrete and other materials, working to find more sustainable, stronger and long-lasting mixtures. But when the COVID-19 pandemic started, he got a call from an acrylic company in the Fraser Valley asking for his help to make germ-resistant washbasins.

The concept was a pipe dream until federal funding arrived for innovators finding COVID-19 solutions. Now Gupta and a team of researchers are working at the University of Victoria campus, testing different metals and materials and modelling various designs in hopes of creating self-cleaning, anti-viral washbasins for use in public spaces, both during and after the pandemic.

READ ALSO: UVic Engineering to 3-D print 4,000 face-shields for frontline workers

While it may feel out of place to talk about lotus flowers in the context of hard metals and plastics, it’s nature that provides the best examples of hydrophobic material. The petals of lotus flowers don’t just resist water, they repel it.

“After it rains, the surface is completely pristine. It looks as if it’s been painted,” Gupta said. “If you look closely at the surface of the lotus leaf it actually has a very smooth surface which doesn’t allow things to stick to it. It’s called the lotus effect in science.”

Gupta and his team hope to replicate that effect with the material used in the basins. That property has to be studied closely – as in microscope closely – in order to see how water behaves on a given metal or material. The team is also investigating which materials are the most pathogen-resistant.

While the team is still in the discovery phase, the basins, once prepared, will be tested with a corona-equivalent virus and if all goes well, these washbasins could become fixtures in public spaces.

“The idea, simply, is even if you can install 20 washbasins in high-traffic areas, that’s a success story,” Gupta said. “We need to plant the seed in peoples’ minds to think about having these basins at entrances and exits.”

READ ALSO: University of Victoria chemist works to create at-home COVID-19 test


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
nina.grossman@blackpress.ca Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusresearchUniversity of VictoriaUVic

Just Posted

Wayne Allen's graduation photo from Chemainus Secondary School. (Photo submitted)
Brother charged with murder in Chemainus teenager’s Ontario death

Jesse James Allen stands accused in the death of Wayne Allen, a 2020 Chemainus Secondary grad

Kim McGregor died in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run accident in Chemainus. (Photo submitted)
Victim identified in Valentine’s Day Chemainus hit-and-run

Kim McGregor grew up in Chemainus and had recently returned to be close to his parents

Tyson Popove placed second in his category at the Mt. Washington Viewtour Virtual Slopestyle event. Photo by Shawn Corrigan
10-year-old soars high above Mount Washington, slopestyle

Campbell River skier Tyson Popove goes big in ski hill’s virtual competition

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: Island teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

Teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressures from outside and within

A beautiful sunny afternoon showcasing Mount Cain in all its glory. (Kimberley Kufaas Photography)
Mount Cain gets grant funding to construct new day lodge

The North Island ski hill has been awarded $874,000.

Site C will go ahead, one year later and $5.3 billion more, the NDP announced Feb 26. (BC Hydro image)
B.C. to go ahead with Site C dam, with new $16B budget and delayed to 2025

Reviews recommend more oversight, beefed up foundation stability work

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives to view the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Death threats mount against Dr. Bonnie Henry, sparking condemnation from Horgan, Dix

Henry has become a staple on televisions in homes across British Columbia since January 2020

Bryan Adams with his mom, Jane Adams Clark, at Lions Gate Hospital. (Bryan Adams)
Bryan Adams gives shout out to North Shore hospital

The singer’s mom was in Lions Gate Hospital for care

Shoppers will be able to get their hands on signed bottles of Ryan Reynolds’ new gin at B.C. liquor stores this summer. (Twitter/Ryan Reynolds)
Ryan Reynold’s Aviation Gin autographed and coming to B.C. stores

This summer 100 bottles will be available to the public for purchase across five B.C. liquor stores

Several BC Ferries sailings are cancelled Friday morning due to adverse weather. (Black Press Media File)
BC Ferries cancels all sailings between Vancouver Island, mainland

Adverse weather causes cancellations across several BC Ferries routes

A 50-year-old man was stabbed in an altercation that started with a disagreement about physical distancing. (File photo)
Argument about physical distancing leads to stabbing in Nanaimo

Suspect arrested on Gabriola Island an hour after incident Wednesday, Feb. 24

Most Read