Scientists Proposed New Strategy for Inactivating SARS-CoV-2 by Electrochemical Oxidation


Recently, Prof. Dehui Deng and Prof. Fangjun Wang from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), in collaboration with Prof. Yangbo Hu from the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the CAS, reported a novel electrochemical oxidation strategy for inactivating the SARS-CoV-2, by using oxidative species generated on the anode in the water electrolysis, achieving full inactivation of the SARS-CoV-2 in the laboratory.

At present, the pandemic coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has brought great challenges to the safety of human life. Aerosols and wastewater containing the SARS-CoV-2 are produced in designated hospitals, isolation places and cold-chain logistics, which are highly infectious. Full disinfection of the aerosol and wastewater containing the SARS-CoV-2 is of key importance for blocking the spread of the virus. Currently, sodium hypochlorite is the most popular disinfectant to kill the virus in the environment. Under the trend of normalization of epidemic prevention and control, the extensive use of chlorine containing disinfectants causes serious pollution to the ecological environment. Thus, it is of critical importance and urgent to develop a green and highly-efficient method for inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

In view of the above problems, the research team proposed a green and efficient electrochemical oxidation device and method to inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 based on the principle of redox reaction in water electrolysis, and conducted the inactivation experiments in the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the CAS. The electrochemical device employs in-situ formed nickel oxide hydroxide (NiOOH) as anode, Ni foam as cathode and sodium carbonate as electrolyte. After the treatment of 5 minutes at a voltage of 5 volts, the SARS-CoV-2 viruses in the solution can be inactivated with a high efficiency of 99.99%. In-situ XAFS, liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis combined with theoretical calculations indicate that the reactive oxygen species generated on the NiOOH anode can effectively oxidize and damage the receptor binding domain of the SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein, and thereby fully inactivate the virus. This green and efficient electrochemical inactivation strategy provides a new idea for blocking the potential transmission routes of the SARS-CoV-2, such as aerosols and sewage.

This work has been published as an article in Science Bulletin. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Youth Innovation Promotion Association CAS, and the Epidemic Prevention and Control Project of Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, etc.  (Text by Yunchuan Tu and Liang Yu)