March 27, 2020
SVSU teams with Saginaw distillery on plan to produce hand sanitizer in response to COVID-19
Saginaw Valley State University is doing its part to answer the call by beginning plans to produce 300 gallons of much-sought-after hand sanitizer that health care professionals can use while responding to the COVID-19 virus.
SVSU's plans involve a partnership with Saginaw-based Old Town Distillery, which recently donated 270 gallons of 190-proof alcohol that serve as a key sanitizer ingredient.
The project is one of several COVID-19 response initiatives being pursued by SVSU in collaboration with Michigan Health Improvement Alliance, a nonprofit that coordinates health care-related efforts across 14 mid-Michigan counties.
“SVSU has long-established partnerships in the community,” said Matthew Kline, manager of the SVSU Independent Testing Laboratory where the sanitizer would be created.
“As we face this public health crisis together, our university is proud to join with the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance and our regional economic development leaders to protect our brave health care professionals across the state."
Production of the hand sanitizer tentatively is scheduled to begin next week, but the fast-evolving response to COVID-19 could shift those plans, he said.
Kline would be involved in the production as well as an independent contractor and potentially an SVSU student, all while practicing social distancing in the lab setting.
The hand sanitizer project isn’t the only initiative Kline is pursuing.
Within days of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the state, SVSU began working with Michigan Health Improvement Alliance representatives to both explore developing prototypes and create access to critical personal protection equipment (PPE) needs for regional health care providers.
Using 3-D printers and other campus resources, Kline in the last two weeks has created prototype face shields and face masks as well as medical swabs for the consideration of companies as far away as Connecticut, he said.
While the hand sanitizer project is the initiative closest to reaching a full-scale production cycle, the SVSU alumnus hopes to add other initiatives to that category soon.
“A lot of these projects are in their infancy, but I’m working hard to move them along,” said Kline, a Merrill resident. “When I see an opportunity to serve the community, I jump on it.”
Along with the Independent Testing Laboratory, the effort to identify projects with Michigan Health Improvement Alliance has been coordinated by staff of the SVSU-based offices of Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center Northeast Regional Office and Great Lakes Bay Manufacturers Association.