CSIR bioscientists nominated for NSTF-BHP Billiton Awards for new disinfectant


Two CSIR bioscientists have been nominated for the 2012/13 NSTF-BHP Billiton Awards for work that led to the formulation of a new, environmentally-friendly disinfectant product.

Dr Lucia Steenkamp and Prof Paul Steenkamp were nominated in the category for ‘research leading to innovation by teams or individuals through organisations’. This team embarked on a programme of evaluating environmentally friendly disinfectant products in the market. Through the application of advanced HPLC-MS techniques (a chemistry technique that combines the physical separation capabilities of liquid chromatography with the mass analysis capabilities of mass spectrometry), they were able to identify the composite ingredients and evaluate their potential function.

The two also investigated a natural product that could be obtained from the fruit industry. A product was identified and found to be effective, but the manufacturing cost was too high to use the particular product on its own. However, a combination of the natural product and the compound resulted in a highly active biocide that is biodegradable, non-toxic and can be marketed as a ‘green’ product.

The product was evaluated by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and has received three SABS SANS marks for product excellence, stability and activity, as the disinfectant kills 99.9% of pathogenic bacteria and microorganisms, even when highly diluted. As a result of the safety of the product, it can be used to sterilise food processing equipment, disinfect all medical equipment and medical surroundings, and even clean hard surfaces.

The biocide is now available as four formulations that target the different industries. NutriDx is used mainly in the food industry; VitroDx in the health industry; AgriDx in the agricultural industry; and IndusDx for general purposes.

“The product could have a significant impact from an environmental perspective, as it does not contribute to pollution and exposure to toxic chemicals normally employed in disinfectants. The product has obtained three SABS SANS marks for quality and is currently being investigated by different international detergent companies for licensing of the technology,” says Lucia Steenkamp.

“It is a great honour for us to be nominated and it may contribute to improved visibility for the CSIR’s work in biotechnology. With a renewed drive to take more products to market, this product is a very good example of what can be achieved.”

Finalists for the awards were honoured at the NSTF Plenary meeting in May, which will now be followed by NSTF-BHP Billiton Awards gala dinner on Thursday, 27 June 2013.

The awards encourage and reward excellence in scientific research, technological innovation, education, capacity building and communication, thereby honouring and celebrating outstanding contributions to science, engineering, technology and innovation.

Other nominees from the CSIR for the NSTF-BHP Billiton Awards include:

  • The Adaptive real-time internet streaming technology (ARTIST) team (a collaborative effort between the CSIR, University of Cape Town and East Coast Access): Team leader, Dr Keith Ferguson, chief engineer and research group leader.
  • Ultrasonic broken rail detection, IMT-CSIR team: Team leaders Dr Phillip Loveday and Francois Burger, of the Institute for Maritime Technology.

The Annual NSTF-BHP Billiton Awards is the flagship project of the National Science and Technology Forum, the largest and most prominent multi-stakeholder representative forum for science, engineering, technology and innovation organisations in South Africa.

Story: S. Ralarala, CSIE e-News, June 2013