Generating Microbiocides Inside a Sealed Package

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According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are over 100,000 infections caused by salmonella and E. coli each year, leading to hundreds of deaths. There are currently several different methods used to decontaminate medical equipment, food products, and other consumer goods such as chemical treatments, heat, electron beams, and x-ray or gamma ray irradiation systems. However, these methods of sterilization can be expensive, time consuming, and dangerous.

Researchers at Purdue University have developed a new technique using atmospheric plasma, which can decontaminate surfaces very quickly, with treatments lasting from 30 seconds to five minutes. A sealed package is exposed to a high-voltage electric field, which ionizes the gas inside the container, killing harmful bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella. The process uses 30-40 Watts, which is less than an incandescent light bulb, and does not heat the container; the contents remain unchanged. Ozone is used in other methods of sterilization, but requires the inclusion of a device in the packaging or ozone is pumped in. This technique does not change the packaging and the gases inside return to normal after the treatment.

Advantages:
-Effectively eliminates harmful pathogens
-Product is sterilized in its packaging
-Uses little electricity
-Works with glass or plastic containers
-Does not heat content more than a few degrees

Potential Applications:
-Food industry
-Food safety
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Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization
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