A new air filter can kill bacteria and viruses floating in the air in an instant.
The device uses ‘non-thermal plasma’ (NTP), a gas that causes molecules to react with oxygen to make ozone.
Ozone is known to be antibacterial and destroys pathogens by rupturing their cell walls.
But a new study found that NTP also kills viruses and can destroy 99.9 percent of them in a quarter of a second.
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A new air filter can kill bacteria and viruses floating in the air in an instant (stock)
Researchers hope that this will one day put an end to the spread of infections in the air, such as measles.
They want to change the technology from something that protects the air of a building to a device that you can wear to replace traditional face masks.
The research was conducted by the University of Michigan and led by Tian Xia, a researcher in the civil and environmental engineering department.
Outbreaks of infectious diseases in the air can cause a serious alarm, the researchers wrote in the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics.
And ventilation systems, such as air conditioning units, allow the pathogens behind these deadly outbreaks to spread easily between humans and animals.
“Some viruses can survive a few miles in the air,” said study author Dr. Herek Clack, associate professor.
“For people, when we shake hands or when we kiss, or when someone sneezes around you, they are all different ways of transmitting for a virus or bacteria.”
WHO IS THE MOST HAZARD TO MEASURES?
Everyone has a small risk of developing measles because vaccination does not guarantee complete immunity.
However, young children who have not been vaccinated are at particular risk, as are pregnant women who have not had the injection.
Measles are common in many developing countries, especially in parts of Africa and Asia.
More than 95 percent of measles deaths occur in countries with a low average income.
Outbreaks can be particularly life threatening in countries experiencing or remedying natural disasters or conflicts.
Damage to health services disrupts routine immunization, while overcrowding significantly increases the risk of infection.
Source: World Health Organization
Non-thermal plasma (NTP), which is ‘like a flame without the heat’, has been shown to be effective against bacteria in the air.
One study even showed that it can eliminate up to 95 percent of E.coli bacteria in just ten seconds, Science Alert reported.
NTP is a gas that mainly stores its energy in free electrons, so that the temperature remains low. Electrons are negatively charged particles of an atom.
When pure oxygen is fed by an NTP-emitting device, it produces an effect similar to that of static electricity.
These small sparks of ‘electricity’ are captured by glass beads in the pipes of the structure.
“You trigger sparks in those empty spaces,” said Dr. Clack.
This results in electrons released from the NTP and atoms being discharged from their molecules.
All this leads to the production of free radicals – oxygen molecules split into atoms.
Oxygen radicals react with normal oxygen molecules at room temperature and form ozone, a known antibacterial substance.
Within a few minutes the ozone breaks the cell wall of a bacterium, making it unusable. And the new research shows that NTP has a similar effect on viruses.
The researchers have subjected ‘viral aerosols’ to NTP, although it is unclear what the viruses were.
They found the device “exponentially increased inactivation” of the pathogen, which increased as the air flow increased.
“By passing the packed bed, pathogens in the airstream are oxidized by unstable atoms called radicals,” Dr. said. Clack.
“What remains is a virus that has reduced the ability to infect cells.”
The device works better, faster and cheaper than air filters, Dr. added. Clark.
“I’m really excited about solutions to existing problems,” he said.
“The next phase will be human applications. How can we minimize what we do on a building scale, to the point where we arrive at a device that you can wear?
“That way we could replace traditional face masks.”
The researchers claim that the ozone exposure of the device is not a safety risk because it falls within the regulatory standards.
And “carbon-based ozone filters” reduced the “residual ozone” to “background levels” in some cases.
The researchers first test the device on a pig farm to determine whether it can prevent the spread of pathogens between cattle, which sometimes infect people.