Workshop on Roadmapping of Quantitative Understanding of Cleaning and Decontamination

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Mathematics


Cleaning and decontamination are ubiquitous operations in the home, healthcare and industry. The removal of unwanted residues from surfaces in order to avoid cross-contamination between products (e.g. in the kitchen, food or pharmaceutical manufacture), the removal of fouling layers to return surfaces to their original condition or level of performance (e.g. from windows, walls or heat exchangers), or the elimination of organisms and biofilms from surgical instruments (e.g. in healthcare) have historically been tackled by 'tried and tested' approaches which have been developed over time. Such empirical approaches are unlikely to be suitable for the new cleaning and decontamination challenges which the UK and many other nations face, which include
(a) New soils and surfaces. The food industry is subject to continuous innovation as it seeks to supply nutritious food subject to evolving guidance on ingredients, allergens and consumer requirements. Elsewhere, the NHS and other healthcare providers are regularly challenged by different organisms comprising the hygienic status of patient facilities.
(b) Dangerous soils. The poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in 2018 was followed by many months of work to decontaminate the Skripal's house and other items and locations which had come into contact with the Novichok substance. The UK nuclear industry faces a range of new cleaning and decontamination cases associated with the decommissioning of reactors and fuel reprocessing plants. Determining how to clean these effectively without extensive testing is critical as the materials used to clean the surfaces are themselves contaminated: trials are very costly in time and resources.
(c) Limited resources. Many cleaning operations employ large volumes of clean water, often heated and often containing cleaning agents. The sustainability of many food manufacturing operations is determined by the time spent cleaning (reducing productivity) and the cost of providing, preparing and treating this water.

This workshop will establish the state of the art in quantitative modelling of cleaning and decontamination operations in the UK and beyond. It will bring together experts from different disciplines and industries to maximise the sharing of existing knowledge and capture the challenges on the horizon. A key deliverable is the creation of a roadmap to guide future research in this area.

It will take the form of a 2.5 day physical meeting in September 2020 followed by a 1 day web-conference of the organisers in early November 2020 where the summaries will be finalised.
Day 1 will focus on establishing the state of the art (or science) in related disciplines, with a series of keynote presentations by invited speakers on topics ranging from mathematical methods to experimental techniques and data methods. These will be interspersed by sessions with short oral presentations by active researchers in order to highlight ongoing work, and ferment networking. The emphasis will be on current work.
Day 2 will focus on challenges, with invited presentations from industry (including food, pharma and nuclear), government (e.g. DSTL, DEFRA) and services (e.g. water, hospitals). Each presentation will be followed by a discussion of the quantitative elements involved, focusing on gaps in existing science and issues arising in testing, modelling and resources.
Day 3 will bring learnings together to identify priorities in research and future work for the roadmap.

The findings from the Workshop will be made available on a publicly available archive.


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