Cold Plasma Reactor to Kill Airborne Viruses
The ongoing coronavirus outbreak is making it clear that the world needs innovative new tools for slowing the spread of infections. While there are a number of well-known methods of disinfection that are being employed, the air itself serves as a channel through which viruses can spread. Researchers at the University of Michigan and University of Minnesota have now built and tested a cold plasma reactor that can effectively inactivate airborne viruses.
Though the technology was developed to help stop infections that attack farm pigs and tested on Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome virus (PRRSv), cold plasma may be just as effective at disinfecting public and private spaces such as subway cars, offices, and even hospital wards of human viruses.
The new reactor produces charged molecules that aggressively react with other molecules, causing microscopic living things to sustain a great deal of damage. Running air filled with PRRSv through the new reactor resulted in the exhaust containing less than five percent of the original living virus particles. The researchers believe they can improve this number even further.
To kill virus particles, the new reactor features borosilicate glass beads loaded into a cylinder between which air is made to pass. A voltage is run through the beads so that a plasma is created and radicals are produced.
“Airborne transmitted diseases represent one of the biggest threats to people and animals,” said Montserrate Torremorrell, co-author of the latest study and associate professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Minnesota. “A technology like this nonthermal plasma reactor is a breakthrough that will help keep both healthy.”
Study in Journal of Hazardous Materials: Inactivation of airborne porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSv) by a packed bed dielectric barrier discharge non-thermal plasma
Related study in Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics: Inactivation of airborne viruses using a packed bed non-thermal plasma reactor