Large surface biological/chemical decontamination



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Texas Tech University


Contamination by microorganisms such as E, coli and Anthrax has been a source of concern in the agricultural and food processing industries for many years. However, the increasing presence and availability of the more robust microorganisms, such as Anthrax, present a significant threat to the safety and quality of life to which we are currently accustomed. As the knowledge and technology to manufacture and weaponize lethal strains and different suspensions of biological and chemical agents become more available, the knowledge and technology to detect and destroy these biological and chemical agents must also be developed. Methods currently used to decontaminate biological agents include electron beams, exposure to very high heats in excess of 130°C, exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) light, and the use of liquid solvents such as bleach, just to name a few. Based on previous research, another very effective decontamination technique is to expose the agent to an arc jet plume, which exhibits multiple killing mechanisms but is energy inefficient. It is of great interest to explore additional decontamination techniques that decontaminate more rapidly, are more energy efficient, do not harm the contaminated surface, and do not leave behind a residue which must later be cleaned.

The pulsed corona discharge (PCD), which generates many of the same killing mechanisms as the arc jet, is thought to be a viable solution to the decontamination of biological and chemical agents; especially when combined with environmental enhancers that increase the amount of water vapor in the air or that increase the temperature of the specimen. A combination of experiments has been performed with the PCD utilizing the environmental enhancements previously mentioned on both chemical and biological specimens with the main goal pointing towards the decontamination of Anthrax in various environments. Additional experiments have been performed to determine if common barriers, such as paper or plastic envelopes, would inhibit the killing efficiency of the pulsed corona discharge. The most immediate benefits of the research performed with the pulsed corona discharge could be applied toward the destruction of Anthrax in contaminated mail.



Biological decontamination, Decontamination (from gases chemicals etc.), Plasma jets