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August 2022
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Fusion boffins get new shield against COVID contamination

The MAST (Joint European Torus and Mega Ampere Spherical Tokamak) experimental plasma machine at CCFE

Hundreds of scientists and engineers working on the UK’s race to harness fusion energy are being protected from COVID-19 contamination by new super-tough anti-microbial coating Touchpoint Shield.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has commissioned bio-hazard cleaning and decontamination specialist SafeGroup to install Touchpoint Shield in washrooms and toilet areas.

Facilities managers at the authority’s research centre near Abingdon, Oxfordshire, were impressed with trials that proved the coating suppressed the build-up of SARS-Cov-2, the COVID-19 virus.

A team of SafeGroup technicians has now applied the fast-drying and nearly invisible Touchpoint Shield to showers, toilets and taps at multiple locations across the 200-acre fusion energy research site.

The coating has been installed in time for the UKAEA to provide enhanced surface protection against the new Omicron COVID-19 variant.

Keith Musgrave, the UKAEA’s Head of Buildings and Facilities Management, said: “SafeGroup has worked with us to undergo pilot testing of Touchpoint Shield over a six-week period at the height of the pandemic.

“The results were conclusive as to the coating’s effectiveness. Touchpoint Shield has now been applied to areas throughout the site.

“We will now add this process to our new builds and building refurbishment projects. The service from SafeGroup throughout the whole process has been efficient, collaborative and totally professional.”

Adam Clark, Building and Refurbishment Manager at the UKAEA, said: “Touchpoint Shield provides long-lasting anti-microbial protection on all surfaces while also making them so much easier to keep clean. Treated surfaces also look excellent.”

The UKAEA carries out fusion energy research on behalf of the UK Government.

Aerial view of CCFE

Its Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) is a global leader in fusion energy research which aims to harness the power of the stars, including our Sun, to provide safe, sustainable, low-carbon energy.

Chris MacDonald, SafeGroup’s Business Strategy Director, who has been leading the Touchpoint Shield installation, said: “The spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variants shows we must take a long view to beat the pandemic and establish high performance hygiene protection.

Touchpoint Shield being installed at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy

“Our work at the CCFE demonstrates how Touchpoint Shield is quick and simple to install and instantly begins to provide long-term, active protection against SARS-Cov-2 and a range of other pathogens.

“Uniquely, it combines proven effectiveness against the COVID-19 virus in a long-lasting, low-maintenance coating that, because it is transparent, doesn’t change the look or feel of treated surfaces.

“Installing Touchpoint Shield is a proven way to also directly address the heightened concerns employees have about workplace hygiene, supporting enhanced assurance, trust and wellbeing.”

Like many organisations, the UKAEA has been looking for effective ways to improve protection for its teams during the COVID-19 pandemic and has made Touchpoint Shield a key element of its enhanced hygiene strategy.

CCFE’s work is highly collaborative, with scientists and engineers visiting from around the world to work on highly complex experiments. Putting in place improved hygiene protection measures to allow this to continue has been a top priority for the authority.

The active anti-microbial agent in Touchpoint Shield is silver ions, which have long been proven to destroy many viruses, bacteria, mould, fungi and many parasites.

Independent laboratory tests, commissioned by SafeGroup, have proven Touchpoint Shield is 99+% effective against SARS-CoV-2 and other bugs that cause serious workplace illness, including the flu virus and Norovirus.

The silver ions are added to liquid coating made from billions of nano-ceramic particles. It is these particles that make the coating ultra-smooth and tough, enhancing the look of treated surfaces and makes them easier to clean.

This is giving SafeGroup clients, including the UKAEA, the added advantage of making their cleaning regimes more productive, with no need for additional high frequency touchpoint cleaning.

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