WINDSOR, ONT. -- A University of Windsor chemist is researching “anti-viral coating” for frequently touched surfaces so elevator buttons and fuel pumps could automatically destroy viruses.

Dr. John Trant is looking into ways to coat these surfaces in a resin that dissolves viruses like the one the causes COVID-19, a news release from the university says.

“Even if we’re keeping space between us but we’re touching the same surfaces, the virus will spread,” Trant said in the release. “An anti-viral coating for surfaces that absorb virus particles and destroys them could solve that problem.”

The material would be applied upon manufacturing, so storekeepers would no longer have to constantly disinfect surfaces touched by the public.

Trant has received a $50,000 research grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to partially fund this research. The council has set up a special $15-million fund in response to COVID-19.

His research is the first UWindsor project to be funded.

The anti-viral coating is one of several aims of Trant’s research project. The University of Windsor said he has already largely accomplished the first, which is developing a liquid hand sanitizer based on the formula recommended by the World Health Organization.

Trant partnered with Wolfhead Distillery, cannabis company Peak Processing, and condiment bottler Inner Seasonings to acquire the ingredients, and has distributed the hand sanitizer locally, the release stated.

“We aren’t just making hand sanitizers, we’re doing new science here,” he said. “This funding allows us to try new things and solve new problems that the off-the-shelf products can’t.”

The deadline to apply for a grant under the COVID program is June 1, but NSERC is funding worthy research projects as they are submitted to respond rapidly to the pandemic.