PR: Disinfection and sterilization with plasma technology

New processes from Plasmatreat can simplify future sanitization of food, packaging and more

Plasmatreat GmbH, a leading developer and manufacturer of plasma systems for atmospheric plasma processes (Openair-Plasma), has developed processes for disinfection and sterilization in various partnerships that use plasma-activated water (PAW) and plasma-activated water vapor (PAWV) to simplify processes and save costs. Scientific tests confirmed the effectiveness. Approval for use in industry is currently pending. 

Plasma technology is based on a simple physical principle: the addition of energy causes states of aggregation to change. If further energy is added to a gas, it is ionized and enters the high-energy plasma state as the fourth state of aggregation. When plasma with its high energy level comes into contact with materials, the surface properties change, e.g. from hydrophobic to hydrophilic. Plasmatreat systems are mainly used in surface treatment for ultra-fine cleaning, activation and coating in industrial production processes. However, the reactive species in atmospheric pressure plasma also have an antibacterial effect, which can be used as an interesting alternative to conventional disinfection and sterilization processes, e.g. in the food industry. 

Atmospheric pressure plasma has an antibacterial effect
The reactive nitrogen and oxygen species of atmospheric plasma can be transferred to water or water vapor. Plasma-activated water (PAW) or plasma-activated water vapor (PAWV) is then obtained. Highly efficient mixing of plasma into water is achieved with the aid of reactors that enable the efficient production of PAW. The reactive plasma species dissolve in water and can react further. PAW can be poured, sprayed or nebulized and will sterilize a directly treated surface in seconds. Washing objects in PAW is also possible. To obtain plasma activated water vapor (PAWV), plasma sterilization nozzles are used for highly efficient activation: Water is evaporated in an evaporator and the vapor is mixed into the reactive gas stream. This reactive mixture can be used, for example, to sterilize surfaces of food production and packaging equipment in a short time. In addition to direct surface sterilization, this process can also be used to disinfect (smaller) production rooms. In trials, a single plasma sterilizer was used to sterilize an entire ambulance quickly and gently. 

Chemical-free, efficient and cost-effective options for sterilization
Plasmatreat has developed the technology for generating PAW and PAWV in cooperation with the Fraunhofer IVV (Freising), the WFK Institute (Krefeld) and other partners. The effectiveness of PAW and PAWV against a wide variety of germs has been demonstrated. The only components of the two odorless and tasteless sterilization processes are water and plasma generated under atmospheric pressure. To date, PAW and PAWV have not yet been approved as biocides or disinfectants. In the future, however, these processes could open up completely new possibilities for the gentle sterilization of a wide variety of materials, equipment and textiles in areas such as the disinfection and sterilization of people in protective suits, production equipment, packaging, transport containers and even direct hygienization of food.