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President Astrid Söderbergh Widding: Visit to the hand sanitiser factory

Last Friday I was back on a deserted campus after a week of working from home. The day began with the president’s presentation on Zoom and ended with Vice President Henrik Cederquist and I visiting our chemists who are making hand sanitiser for healthcare – 10,000 litres so far.

We took a tour around, from the entry where empty pallets from the deliveries were bundled up, up to the labs themselves, four in total. There is the manufacturing room, including a tiny quality control, and the place where the hand sanitiser is put into containers and labelled. From there we went down to the secure room where three 1,000-litre containers of ethanol are stored, and where it is put into smaller containers to bring up to the labs for production.

It all began with an initiative from the Chemistry Section where a quartet of firebrands – Section Dean Berit Olofsson and former Section Dean Lennart Bergström together with Hanna Gustavsson and Tamara Church – lead the whole project. When they saw how acute the need was in healthcare and that the University could assist it was clear what should be done. The project is run with help of volunteers from the chemistry departments with their strong sense of idealism and their engagement. The most difficult aspect has been the bureaucracy with all of the permits and exemptions that must be secured – but finally everything has fallen into place.

I have heard a lot about the hand sanitiser operation and have blogged about it before. I’ve even undeservedly received thanks and praise from city counsellors and the mayor – It’s completely the chemists who deserve the thanks! But to see the actual place where they were working and to hear more about the day-to-day of the project, with all of the hard work they’re doing, that was something altogether different. I am very thankful for everyone who contributed with donations of ethanol, containers and more that made the project possible, and I am tremendously proud of our chemists who contributed with this societally important effort to fight the crisis we are now facing.

Astrid Söderbergh Widding


April 6, 2020

Astrid Söderbergh Widding
Photo: Eva Dalin