University of Nebraska helps produce 70,000 gallons of hand sanitizer

LINCOLN, Neb. - Hand sanitizer remains a hot commodity during this pandemic, and the University of Nebraska is helping to meet that need for local businesses.

Hand sanitizer remains a hot commodity during this pandemic, and the University of Nebraska is helping to meet that need for local businesses. (Source: KOLN)

Faculty, staff, students and volunteers are teaming up with community partners to create thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer.

They are then giving them out to places like hospitals, nursing homes, and other essential businesses around the state free of charge.

"I think it's an important time that we come together as a community and we help each other," said Hunter Flodman, an assistant professor at UNL. "There's a lot of people struggling right now and we're just doing what we can to help."

Flodman says with the community partners, the University is better able to quickly produce mass quantities of product.

"We pre-load the truck with inactive ingredients before it goes to the plant, and it goes to the plant and gets filled up with alcohol in York, Nebraska at the Green Plains facility, and when it comes back, it's finished hand sanitizer," Flodman said.

Green Plains Inc., which operates 13 bio-refineries across the United States, has donated a significant amount of FCC Grade alcohol to the project from its York, Nebraska, facility. The alcohol is higher in purity and quality than traditional fuel-grade ethanol. Green Plains does not sell any fuel-grade alcohol for use in disinfectants or sanitizers.

According to the University of Nebraska, other supplies have been contributed by BASF, Cargill, Syngenta, Phillips 66 and the State of Nebraska, among others. Faculty and staff affiliated with the Food Processing Center, College of Engineering, Environmental Health and Safety, and Nebraska Forest Service handle production.

“I cannot say enough about the incredible generosity of our partners in the ethanol industry during an economically challenging time,” Flodman said. “In this case, Green Plains is helping ensure that consumers get a safe product, whether they buy meat at a supermarket or a meat locker in their community.”

So far Flodman estimates they're made 70,000 gallons of hand sanitizer and says they'll keep making it until the supply can't keep up with the demand.