A3 Surfaces is currently constructing a new plant in Saguenay, Québec, Canada. The plant will enable the company to research and manufacture antimicrobial anodized aluminum, a proprietary technology that is unique in the world. This technology aims to become a key factor in the fight against viral or bacterial disease transmission through a self-disinfecting biocidal surface treatment. A3 Surfaces had recently achieved positive test results demonstrating the viability of the technology.
In terms of marketing antimicrobial anodized aluminum, A3 Surfaces is getting ready to enter the European sector, with the upcoming distribution of its products to all 27 member countries of the EU.
“A3 Surfaces has achieved important milestones in the last few months,” said Jean-Sébastien Lemieux, general manager of A3 Surfaces. “We are optimistic that we will achieve our goal of becoming the world leader in biocidal antimicrobial protection through the treatment of specialized metal surfaces.”
Originally developed and patented by ECOGENE-21, the antimicrobial anodized aluminum is now being commercialized by A3 Technologies under a license agreement. The process merges aluminum anodization with biochemistry. At the nano-scale, a carefully selected biocidal agent is deposited into the pores that are naturally formed during anodizing.
Previous tests conducted at the Université de Sherbrooke found that the antimicrobial anodized aluminum can kill 99.9% of bacteria (S. aureus) in five minutes or less. In addition, testing showed that the bacterial load on a contaminated hand could be lowered by 80% by contacting the A3 Surfaces material for as little as five seconds.
Due to the pandemic, A3 Surfaces conducted further research in fall 2020 to test antimicrobial anodized aluminum against COVID-19. These tests were conducted by the CL3 laboratory at the University of Toronto and were carried out through a collaboration with a team of research and clinical development experts from GuardRX (a pharmaceutical development company), including founder and CEO Dr. Gary Kobinger. In reviewing the state of this research, A3 Surfaces is confident that its product will position Canada as a leader in technology to help curb the spread of coronavirus.
A3 Surfaces recently renewed its MOU with Rio Tinto, which includes additional financial support from the aluminum manufacturer amounting to $250,000 over a 3-year period. Rio Tinto not only provides financial support, but also contributes to the development of the antimicrobial anodized aluminum through research and development (R&D) work, as well as providing information regarding best practices and other advice. Over the past 5 years, Rio Tinto has invested nearly $280,000 to support the development of A3 Surfaces.
“As an early partner of A3 Surfaces, Rio Tinto is proud to support its technological and business development by offering guidance and significant financial support,” said Sébastien Ross, executive director, Québec Operations, Rio Tinto. “It is thanks to its Regional Economic Development team that Rio Tinto can contribute to the company’s success and the value creation in the region.”
Additional financial and scientific partners include the Société de la Vallée de l’aluminium (SVA), Desjardins, Promotion Saguenay, Université de Sherbrooke, CQRDA, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, the CEE-UQAC, CIUSSS du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, and Ecogène 21.
“SVA is proud to support A3 Surfaces since its inception,” said Lilianne Savard, Acting Director of the SVA. “To do so, we have contributed more than $90,000 in non-refundable contributions from the Rio Tinto Fund of the SVA. In addition, thanks to the strong potential of A3 Surfaces’ products, Desjardins-Innovatech is also helping financially to the commercialization component through its partnership with the ‘ACCÉLÉRATEUR SVA’ program. We are convinced of A3 Surfaces’ success.”
A3 Surfaces was also granted a refundable loan of $1.5 million by the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec. This financial assistance is in addition to the $3.2 million allocated by Investissement Québec last November.
The capital obtained from the various investments and loan will be used to develop the new A3 Surfaces plant and contribute to increasing production. This capital will be also be used for the certification and marketing of the antimicrobial anodized aluminum process, as well as to help consolidate the company’s ten existing jobs and create about 15 new positions between now and 2022.
The A3 Surfaces plant is currently in pilot mode. It is expected to be fully operational by the end of May 2021.