Research project: Plasma sterilisation of endoscopes

The 19th SME Innovation Day took place in Berlin on 14 June 2012 as part of the Central SME Innovation Programme (ZIM) funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi). The exhibitors included research partners Plasmatreat GmbH and wfk - Cleaning Technology Institute e.V.

Dr. Alexander Knospe (Plasmatreat) and Dr. Christina Maggakis-Kelemen (wfk) presented their ZIM-funded joint research project entitled “Development of a process for sterilising thermolabile flexible endoscopes using atmospheric pressure plasma technology”. The aim of the project is to replace procedures currently used to sterilise endoscopes and other medical devices which are sensitive to heat and moisture with an innovative atmospheric plasma surface treatment.

Due to their very small diameters and thermolabile plastic components, endoscopes are difficult to treat, and as a result, sterilisation techniques are often inadequate. The new plasma process uses special process gases for the first time to reliably kill germs even at lower temperatures. In addition, since the surface temperature remains below 60 °C, this innovative technique is completely harmless to the heat and moisture-sensitive components commonly found in endoscopes.

Central SME Innovation Programme (ZIM)

The Central SME Innovation Programme (ZIM) was set up by the BMWi on 1 July 2008 to promote the use of market-oriented technology by SMEs. Until the end of 2014 this scheme will provide SMEs with reliable funding to support a high level of research, development and innovation. In the past four years up until 30 June 2012 ZIM has received more than 25,000 funding applications and approved grants totalling some 2.3 billion euros for around 18,000 projects. The SMEs have used the funding to make investments of around 7 billion euros in research and development.

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