New Citric Acid Disinfectant Introduced for Aircraft Cleaning

Saudi Ground Services (SGS) is using a disinfectant free of quaternary ammonium compounds (QAC) on thousands of aircraft. The disinfectant comes from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) biotech spinout WAYAKIT.

According to a news release from Sciad Newswire, there is increasing concern over health and environmental impacts of QAC cleaning products, including: asthma, dermatitis and antimicrobial resistance.

The partnership between SGS and WAYAKIT has already resulted in removal of 37.4 tons of unsafe chemicals including QACs from the environment. The eco-friendly disinfectant will be used in more than 200,000 aircraft cleaned by SGS each year in Saudi Arabia.

The aircraft cleaning product developed by KAUST startup WAYAKIT uses citric acid, a natural, biodegradable ingredient that does not contribute to antimicrobial resistance and effectively reduces SARS-Cov-2 viral concentration. The formula kills bacteria faster than toxic and hazardous alternatives and is less likely to cause allergic reactions or leave harmful residues.

Post-COVID cleaning standards have increased demand and use of cleaning products in aircraft, hospitals, hotels, buses, trains, and schools. Airline crews are required to clean aircraft interiors within 9 to 12 minutes and require high-tech products that work quickly.

“We have seen WAYAKIT’s growth and we are proud of being the incubator of this impact-focused technology that now is revolutionizing airplane cleaning in Saudi Arabia – and hopefully soon the world,” said Kevin Cullen, former vice president of innovation of KAUST. “The partnership between WAYAKIT and SGS demonstrates their commitment to reducing their environmental impact while providing innovative and effective solutions.”

Using WAYAKIT’s biodegradable disinfectant, SGS has transitioned from quaternary ammonium-based products and is now able to clean and disinfect 7.5 million square meters using non-hazardous chemicals.

“We have proven that when SGS shifted towards a WAYAKIT solution, they not only increased their cleaning efficiency but also saved operational costs and decreased the exposure of crew and passengers to toxic chemicals,” said Dr. Luisa Javier, chief executive officer of WAYAKIT. “WAYAKIT aims to provide natural-based cleaning products that really work and are safe and sustainable for our planet. We track the impact of our clients using the UN Sustainable Development Goals – and we are proud to partner with SGS to deliver sustainable impact.”

The use of WAYAKIT and the reduction in environmental hazards has enabled SGS to achieve the Silver category of WAYAKIT’s Environmental Circle Certification. The certification recognizes a commitment by SGS to implementing sustainable interior aircraft cleaning practices.

“At SGS, sustainability is a core value, and we strive to bring innovative solutions that improve our productivity and hygiene quality. Caring for passengers and staff is part of SGS’s integrity. Additionally, SGS has achieved cost efficiency and excellence in delivering service to our stakeholders,” said Dr. Ahmed Al-Saggaf, Director of Innovation and Business Development at SGS.

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