Cu at the taxi rank

Submitted by: Dani Jvr

Brief: Public Transportation

Original submission


Taxis are the main form of public transport in SA. Each day thousands of people touch taxi door handles and leave behind bacteria and viruses that contaminate them, spreading pathogens to the next person who touches it. Although taxis are washed regularly, the volume of commuters touching it every hour makes it impossible to keep clean and sterile.

In SA, diseases such as diarrhoea, TB, Gastroenteritis, and now COVID-19 kill thousands of people, and the number of hospital acquired infections due to drug resistant superbugs (e.g. MRSA) are on the rise. The problem is that these infections are contagious and are easily spread, especially through contaminated surfaces. There is also a huge problem of copper theft in SA. The Copper Theft Barometer estimates that copper to the value of R13 million is stolen each month in SA. Taxi door handles cannot simply be replaced with copper.


To establish if the main public transport system, the taxi, is a potential breeding ground for pathogens and therefore a hotspot for the spread of transmittable diseases.


To investigate the antimicrobial properties of copper and its efficacy in killing pathogens on contact.


To find a solution that would help to prevent the contagion from spreading by coming up with a prototype taxi door handle that would not be desirable for copper thieves yet contain enough copper at the surface to claim its antimicrobial properties.


PART A: Bacteria thrive on taxi door handles

PART B: Copper has antimicrobial properties and reduces the viability of bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. Coli), Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and resistant Klebsiella pneumonia


PART C: To design, construct and test a copper plated plastic taxi door handle prototype that can remain sterile and free of pathogens.



PART A: The hypothesis was accepted. Bacteria was found on all the 100 taxi door handles tested.

PART B: The hypothesis was accepted. Copper has antimicrobial properties and killed bacteria on contact.

PART C: A prototype copper plated plastic taxi door handle that reduces the viability of Ecoli, MRSA and Klebsiella was designed, constructed and tested.

To bring this idea to life email us.

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