Public urged to help keep Nebraska’s free hand sanitizer project going

Emergency hand sanitizer if produced by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln at the Food Processing Center on Innovation Campus in response to statewide need for the product. It’s provided at no cost to help protect health care workers, medical first responders and others.
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The emergency hand sanitizer project at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in partnership with the Nebraska ethanol industry and other corporate partners is asking the public for support to help keep its important production going.

Production of an ethanol-based hand sanitizer at the university began in April in response to a critically short supply of sanitizer across much of Nebraska as a result of the health pandemic caused by COVID-19. The hand sanitizer is provided at no cost to hospitals, nursing homes, medical first responders, doctors’ offices, other health care providers and critical small businesses in Nebraska and nearby areas.

In partnership with the University of Nebraska Foundation, the university started a public crowdfunding campaign at nufoundation.org/handsanitizer so anyone can contribute and help continue the vital project.

“With the start of this crowdfunding effort, we’re hoping even more people will step up to help so we can continue the needed production and protect Nebraska’s first responders, health care providers and others,” said Terry Howell Jr., executive director of the UNL Food Processing Center.

As demand rose this year for hand sanitizer, prices increased, and its availability started drying up, concerning health care organizations, municipalities and companies.

“As the university and our industry partners learned about the alarming shortage of hand sanitizer in the state, we knew a system and collaboration must be formed with the ethanol industry and others to help,” said Hunter Flodman, assistant professor of practice in chemical and biomolecular engineering at UNL.

Through the collaboration and support from Nebraska companies, more than 60,000 gallons of hand sanitizer have been produced and distributed to more than 500 organizations and facilities across Nebraska, including to frontline health care providers and first responders.

The Nebraska ethanol industry has been donating its product, which is processed with other ingredients to make the hand sanitizer. Green Plains donated more than 95% of the ethanol used.

The idea to produce hand sanitizer at the university’s Food Processing Center on Nebraska Innovation Campus began in mid-March. The university and the Nebraska Ethanol Board worked with the federal Food and Drug Administration so that local ethanol could be made into hand sanitizer. Full production began in April.

Individuals and companies that want more information about the fundraising initiative and how to help can contact Justin Carlson at the University of Nebraska Foundation at 402-458-1196.

Health care organizations and other essential service organizations and companies have priority for ordering the hand sanitizer. Ordering and information are available at handsanitizer.unl.edu.

The following is a list of some of the organizations that have received hand sanitizer:

Annie Jeffrey Hospital
Aurora Cooperative
Boone County Hospital
Bryan Health
Bubbles and Blocks
Cambridge and McCook Hospital District
CHI Health St. Elizabeth
City of Columbus
City of Gothenberg
City of Lincoln
City of Platte Valley
City of Sidney
Columbus Community College
Columbus Police Department
Complete Children’s Health
Crete Area Medical Center
Crete Police Department
Cumming County Nursing Homes and Hospitals
Farmers Cooperative
Douglas County
Fillmore County Hospital
Food Allergy Research and Resource Program
Gage Area Public Health Department
Good Samaritan Hospital
Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office
LES
Nance County
Nebraska Game and Parks
Nebraska National Guard
Nebraska Public Power District
Norton County Hospital
Renewable Fuels Association  (hospital distribution)
Rural Electric Association
Saline County Post Office
Saline County Sheriff’s Department
State of Nebraska
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
UNL Police Department
University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine
West Central Research and Extension Center
Western Nebraska Community College

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