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Sasol, Roquette join growing list of manufacturers adapting plants to produce hand sanitizer

| By Mary Bailey

Manufacturing companies around the globe are joining in the fight to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by providing essential supplies. The growing list of companies who have shifted their production slates to manfuacture hand sanitizer, PPE materials, medical devices and more include Dow, Air Liquide, MOL Group, Milliken & Co., Arkema, Siemens, INEOS and many more.

To help combat the spread of COVID-19 in South Africa, Sasol Ltd. (Johannesburg, South Africa; has developed a new blend of alcohol-based chemicals to be used in manufacturing of hand sanitizers to help address the increase in market demand for these products.

Sasol is a producer and bulk supplier of high purity ethanol (HPE), isopropanol (IPA) and n-Propanol (NPA) alcohols, which are solvent chemicals used in the production of sanitizers, amongst other key chemicals. The company supplies these to distributors globally.

“Over the past few weeks, Sasol has experienced an increase in demand of nearly 400% for alcohol-based products.  In recent weeks, we have delivered close to eight million liters to the South African market and our laboratories, production, marketing and supply chain teams are working around the clock to ensure a reliable supply of critical alcohol-based products to customers, ” said Sasol President and CEO Fleetwood Grobler. 

In France, ingredients company Roquette Frères (Lestrem, France; has adapted one of its pilot lines at its site in Lestrem to manufacture a hydro-alcoholic disinfectant solution. The production started last week and the first shipment has now been sent, free of charge, to the Lille University Hospital Center, to the French Blood Donors Organization and to other local health facilities, in coordination with the “Hauts-de-France Regional Health Agency” and the local authorities.

Roquette has worked to adapt one of its production lines to produce hand sanitizer, which will be donated to local health facilities

While this type of solution is not usually produced by Roquette, the company adjusted one of its R&D pilot units in Lestrem and obtained the required regulatory approvals to produce the hydro-alcoholic solution.

Roquette will produce 5,000 liters of this solution per week as a first step. 500 liters will be used internally to strengthen the existing measures put in place to protect employees and contractors working at company’s sites. This will allow the continuity of their operations, critical to ensure the supply of plant-based ingredients to Food and Pharmaceutical markets. 4,000 liters will be distributed every week, free of charge, to the Lille University Hospital Center and 500 liters will address the needs of the French Blood Donors Organization and the healthcare workers of other local health facilities.

Biosciences company Amyris (Emeryville, Calif.; also announced that it is launching a hand sanitizer product line to help address the high demand triggered by COVID-19. Amyris plans to donate part of the supply to front-line health staffers and medical personnel.

Additionally, the company has completed initial testing of a leading vaccine adjuvant. In partnership with the Infectious Diseases Research Institute (IDRI), Amyris has completed initial testing of its fermentation-derived squalene as a vaccine adjuvant. The company is in active discussion with a leader in the pharmaceutical industry to target broad application of Amyris squalene in flu and potential COVID-19 vaccines.