Apprieu, in the north of the department of Isère. Known for the forges of Bonpertuis, now classified as historical monuments, this small town leaning against the hillside is mainly home to a high-tech laboratory – the VHP Security Paper center – and a 3000m2 factory. It is here that the French group François Charles Oberthur developed the process Bioguard at the time of the influenza A (H1-N1) epidemic. Since, the parent company has given its product its letters of nobility, founding a separate brand. ” The health crisis gave us the impetus to create Bioguard & Co, by becoming a subsidiary of the François-Charles Oberthur groupsays Nicolas Koutros, deputy general manager of Oberthur. By benefiting from the power and resources of the group, we had the cards in hand to accelerate our development and deployment. We have state-of-the-art research and development laboratories and the know-how of 1,300 employees. »
Covid-19 has accelerated research
Let’s take a quick look back at the end of the 2000s. The French group Francois Charles Oberthur – one of the world’s leading banknote printing companies and Europe’s No. 1 for euro banknotes – seeks to protect the paper it uses against virus germs, and developed a first version of Bioguard, now improved to counter Covid-19. ” We have optimized a formula that we had studied during the A H1-N1 influenza crisis, almost fifteen years agoexplains Henri Rosset, director of the Bioguard & Co research center in Apprieu, where his team is experimenting with several technologies intended to secure banknotes. Covid-19 has allowed us to optimize it. »
An antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral solution, Bioguard has indeed proven itself in the production process of the Oberthur group, for the cotton fiber protection of banknotes that we use daily. ” Our role is to deploy our research and innovation resources to strengthen banknotes in all areascontinues Nicolas Koutros. Fight against counterfeiting, reduction of environmental impact, increase in lifespan, health protection of users… When the bank issues instruments whose purpose is to circulate from hand to hand, it must ensure, in all objectivity , that all possible measures have been taken to ensure that this circulation does not lead to new contamination. » This is where Bioguard comes in.
Faced with the Covid-19 epidemic outbreak in the spring of 2020, around ten researchers immediately set out to find the best formula for the product, in order to reduce the lifespan of the viruses present in our direct environment as much as possible. ” At the start of the pandemic, we did not have access to Sars-Cov-2remembers Henri Rosset. So we worked on similar coronaviruses like the common cold. The objective is then crucial, first for banknotes, then – and this is the whole point of the Bioguard process – for all the surfaces that surround us.
Bioguard, all-terrain product
Concretely, Bioguard is an unequaled virucidal product. ” We divide by 500 to 1000 the number of viruses present after a few hourscontinues Nicolas Koutros. We are working to reduce the risk of contamination in addition to vaccination measures. Unlike solutions centered on a product and/or an application process, Bioguard technology is a global approach adapted to customer needs. ” Customers who are potentially very numerous: the product can indeed be used by application on the objects of our daily life, or by direct integration into the manufacturing material. Public spaces are obviously the best place to use them: door handles, restaurant tables, desks, touch screens, grab bars in public transport, telephones, boxes and packaging plastics… All the objects we share, in private life as in professional life, are likely to be contaminating. And therefore to be protected to protect us, us users.
Despite its powerful virucidal properties, the Bioguard process is harmless to human health and to the objects on which it can be applied. Research has been extensive in this area. ” The surface or material is prevented from becoming a nest for microbesexplains Henri Rosset. The basic properties of the material are maintained. Furthermore, Bioguard does not generate any changes in appearance. In the laboratory, the researchers also developed variations of the product, depending on its use. ” We adapt the dosages according to the surface to be treatedspecifies Henri Rosset. It is important to note that our product is safe for humans. There is no skin risk, it is neutral. » Properties which are also valid at the end of the life of the treated products, the latter being able to enter into all the recycling processes.
Before and after Covid
The possible integration of Bioguard & Co in manufacturing materials is therefore a strong argument for many industrial and manufacturing sectors. Starting with packaging, so ubiquitous in our daily lives. ” Environmental issues were yesterdayassures Nicolas Koutros. Tomorrow’s challenge [pour l’emballage] is based on the integration of health protections. The effects of Covid-19 on consumption habits will have to be taken into account by manufacturers. Too little present before the start of the pandemic in China, hygienic considerations have now imposed themselves, both in our lifestyles but especially in the value chain of large industries.
While the French government has just suspended the last anti-Covid measure with the abandonment of the mask in public transport, the use of protective virucides can take over from the famous barrier gestures which have punctuated the past two years. It is now up to objects and surfaces to take over, by limiting their potential for contagiousness. According to the director of the Apprieu laboratory, the Bioguard process even constitutes ” an additional barrier gesture whose effectiveness has been proven “. So much the better, as the return to a normal life is desired by the entire population. And not just in France.