Hong Kong Students Designed Self-Sanitizing Door Handles

This 98.8 percent effective microbe killing handle can handle even the germiest public restroom.

Nov 30, 2019


(Courtesy James Dyson Award)

Handwashing with soap removes germs from your hands and helps prevent infections. That's why  children are taught young that they have to wash their hands before eating, after petting animals, and after using the restroom. Especially after using a public restroom.

When we use a public restroom, the big quandary is how do we exit the facility after washing our hands. We can grab paper towels to turn off the facet and open the door but not all restrooms have paper towels; there could be an electric hand dryer or absolutely nothing to use. But this could become a non-issue thanks to two Hong Kong university graduates who designed a door handle that uses light to self-sanitize itself.

Sum Ming Wong and Kin Pong Li's designed the door handle to be a more effective alternative to the chemical-based cleaning processes that are currently available according to Dezeen.

"Nowadays, people use chemical cleaning materials to clean up public areas, but it is both easy to wipe off and harmful to the human body," the two students told Dezeen. "Our design has high durability and [is] effective."

They were motivated to find this germ-killing solution by the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2003 which infected over 8,000 people and killed more than 700, mostly in China and Hong Kong.

"We knew that many infections can spread by contact, for example, SARS, MERS, Foot and Mouth Disease, and Candida Auris," they said. When lab tested, their design destroyed 99.8 percent of microbes.

The door handle is made of a glass tube with aluminum caps and is covered with a photocatalytic coating made from the  mineral titanium dioxide. This coating on the glass can destroy germs through a chemical reaction that is UV light activated. The cost of the materials was only $13.

The handle has an internal generator that converts kinetic energy from the motion of the door – when it opens and closes – to light energy to keep the UV light active.

This innovative design was one of the finalists of the international 2019 James Dyson Awards, which recognizes innovative student design and engineering. The prize winner will be announced in November 2019, but the competition is stiff.

This self-sanitizing door handle is effective and inexpensive, a great combination that  could go a long way in preventing infections from spreading through contact from one of the most germy places, the public restroom.

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Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.