Misty Plasma Dielectric Barrier Discharge Plasma System for Disinfection

The University of South Carolina is offering licensing opportunities for Misty Plasma Dielectric Barrier Discharge Plasma System for Disinfection





Approximately 1.7 million healthcare-associated infections occur each year in the U.S., killing 98,000 patients. COVID-19 has revealed further weaknesses in the preparedness of healthcare facilities, which lacked the ability to adequately disinfect existing personal protective equipment (PPE), exacerbating an already precarious situation. Chemical germicides, UV light, etc. approaches have proven insufficient.

Invention Description:

The device performs disinfection of surfaces via the production of partially ionized gases, called plasma. Existing plasma disinfection devices use air or sometimes helium gas as the discharge medium. We showed by using our device that by igniting plasma in humid air, the disinfection efficacy can be increased manifold. This is due to the additional formation of hydroxide radicals that have stronger oxidative and thus disinfection properties that originate from plasma discharge in water vapor.

Potential Applications:

Even though literature highlights the effectiveness of non-thermal plasmas in disinfection, two major uphill challenges are preventing their widespread application in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. A lack of knowledge of the physicochemical processes that involve a multitude of charged species and excited neutrals and most DBD apparatus presented in the literature lacks the portability as well as the requirement of introducing the specified amount of water vapor to incorporate the optimum RH. Hence, this innovation presents a novel, relatively simple, portable, planar DBD device with an electrically insulated annular flow channel built through the planar-powered electrode that can be used to disinfect targeted areas and personal protective equipment (PPE), such as surgical masks, N95s, and respirator cartridges.

Advantages and Benefits:

The proposed invention has higher effectiveness than the existing devices. While the existing devices only use either UV radiation or air as the plasma discharge medium, the proposed device also employs water vapor in a discharge medium. This also incorporates hydroxyl radicals in the discharge effluent, which are strong oxidative radicals along with the active discharge species produced from nitrogen and oxygen in the air. Moreover, the device is portable and can be shifted among sections in a medical facility. Furthermore, the device is comparatively inexpensive to build and operate.