A sign in front of the entrance of the University of Maine requires visitors to wear masks while on campus to prevent spreading COVID-19. Credit: Nina Mahaleris / BDN

The federal government has awarded more than $300,000 to a University of Maine engineering professor who is working to increase production of an environmentally friendly disinfectant.

The U.S. Economic Development Administration awarded the money to William DeSisto, a professor of chemical and biomedical engineering at the university. The university said DeSisto is working with manufacturers on technology to increase local production of a bleach alternative made from salt, water and electricity.

The substance is called hypochlorous acid and it has been identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an effective disinfectant against the coronavirus, UMaine said in a statement.

DeSisto said increasing local production of the acid “could really expand market opportunities for this type of disinfectant and reduce risk from supply chain interruptions like the ones we saw early in the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for rural areas.”