Plasma presents an opportunity in the corona crisis

Plasmatreat from Steinhagen in Eastern Westphalia, Germany plans to get more involved in the disinfection industry by providing solutions for disinfecting protective clothing during the current corona crisis.

A prototype cleaning station is already being deployed by the Bavarian Red Cross, while another one is currently undergoing clinical testing in the University Hospital at the Technical University of Munich. Yale University in the US has also expressed an interest in the system.

The idea is that these stations can provide a safe and reliable method of disinfecting single-use protective clothing. This means that disposable items can be used again. During the current global pandemic, protective face masks and suits are in short supply – with the plasma disinfection process, previously used facemasks can be disinfected quickly and with little effort and then used again.

 

Used breathing masks and goggles are put into the plasma system for reprocessing by Lukas Krapf of the BRK rapid response group CBRN(E).
Christian Buske (left), Managing Director of Plasmatreat GmbH, in conversation with Lukas Krapf, member of the Rapid Response Group CBRN(E) of the BRK District Association Haßberge.

How does plasma work?

Plasmatreat is a world market leader in atmospheric plasma research and plasma applications. Plasma technology is highly versatile. Up until now, Plasmatreat has specialized in surface pretreatment, providing solutions to a range of sectors including the aerospace, electronics, packaging, automotive and textile manufacturing industries.

 

Plasma pretreatment of microtiter plates in medical technology
Plasma pretreatment of EPDM profiles in the automotive industry

Plasma is generated when air and high-voltage come together – for example when lightning flashes during a storm. Lightning consists of pure plasma – a gaseous matter.


A glimmer of hope in the current corona crisis is that plasma turns out, among other things, to be an excellent disinfectant when combined with a special process. Plasma kills highly stable, multi-resistant microbes – according to the findings of years of research conducted in the microbiology laboratory at the Plasmatreat Technology Center.

"We can help solve global problems"

"If we can use plasma successfully in the corona crisis now, it will be an enormous boost to our research and could ultimately speed up the pending approval process. For we still find ourselves in a grey area. We know that our process works and we have sufficient proof – but it has not yet been approved. This approval process takes an incredibly long time!", explains CEO Christian Buske.  “And right now, we can't afford to wait", he adds reflectively. I want us to be able to further expand the company and I want our workforce to build new products which can help solve a global problem!"

Plasma to combat corona

The first plasma disinfection station is already in use in Bavaria. Plasmatreat has worked closely with the Bavarian Red Cross for several years. The Bavarian Red Cross is experienced in disaster relief and explored new methods of disinfection during the Ebola crisis. Conventional disinfection methods are very limited when it comes to combating viruses like Ebola and corona (problems with transportation and replenishment, limited shelflife, not applicable everywhere, often involve powerful chemical agents which damage textiles). Plasma is a far more suitable option – providing a low-input, environmentally friendly solution.

So far three plasma disinfection stations have been built and are ready to be deployed – more could go into production immediately. Buske and his colleagues know that there is a need for this solution; they are reminded almost on a daily basis: "We receive numerous calls and requests for help from doctors and hospitals and also private individuals and companies. Facemasks are in short supply – so one solution is to disinfect them.

Plasma offers even more opportunities

Research at Plasmatreat: Tap water becomes a disinfectant through the introduction of plasma

Plasmatreat has long been working on further innovative disinfection solutions. Tap water can be enriched with plasma to create an ingeniously simple disinfectant. The Plasmatreat Technology Center has been running test series for several years in this field too. For Buske and his team, the company's vision has now become reality: "Plasma helps us to combine innovation and sustainability and to make the world a safer place".

Further information

Video available (German only):
Lokalzeit OWL. 27.03.2020. x WDR. Von Christian Keller
https://www1.wdr.de/mediathek/video/sendungen/lokalzeit-ostwestfalen-lippe/video-lokalzeit-owl---558.html

The video will be available unitl April 3rd 2020.

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