New device traps particulates, kills airborne pathogens

Jan 31, 2013

A new device called a soft x-ray electrostatic precipitator protected immunocompromised mice from airborne pathogenic bacteria, viruses, ultrafine particles, and allergens, according to a paper published online ahead of print in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. This device, known for short as a SXC ESP, is highly versatile, with multiple potential uses, and Washington University is working on licensing the technology.

"Small particles are difficult to remove, and our device overcomes that barrier," says Pratim Biswas of Washington University, St. Louis. The device not only captures particles with a high level of efficiency that has never before been achieved; it also inactivates them. Even bioterror agents are blocked and completely inactivated, says Biswas.

The range of potential uses includes indoor protection of susceptible populations, such as people with respiratory illness or inhalation-induced allergies, and young children; protection of buildings from bio-terror attack; protection of individuals in hospital surgical theaters, for example, during open organ surgery; protection in clean rooms for ; removal of in power plants; and capture of diesel exhaust particulates, says Biswas.

The device could be used in homes, with a cost similar to that of high efficiency air cleaners, says Biswas. "But it would be much easier to operate, and much more effective," he adds. It could be added into stand-alone indoor air cleaners, or incorporated into HVAC systems in homes, offices, and even in aircraft cabins. In the study, the device exceeded standards for high efficiency articulate air filters, which must be capable of removing particles larger than 0.3 micrometers with 99.97 percent efficiency.

The SXC ESP works by placing a charge on the particles—"which it does very effectively," says Biswas—and then using an electrical field to trap the particles. The SXC unit then also completely inactivates , by irradiating them, and photoionizing them—as UV light does, only more energetically.

Explore further: Life's extremists may be an untapped source of antibacterial drugs

More information: E.M. Kettleson, J.M. Schriewer, R.M.L. Buller, and P. Biswas, 2013. Soft-x-ray-enhanced electrostatitc precipitation for protection against inhalable allergens, ultrafine particles, and microbial infections. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. Published ahead of print 21 December 2012 ,doi:10.1128/AEM.02897-12

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Technique controls nanoparticle size, creates large numbers

Dec 03, 2007

In a world that constantly strives for bigger and bigger things, Washington University in St. Louis' Pratim Biswas, Ph.D., the Stifel and Quinette Jens Professor and chair of the Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical ...

Recommended for you

Cohesin molecule safeguards cell division

Nov 21, 2014

The cohesin molecule ensures the proper distribution of DNA during cell division. Scientists at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna can now prove the concept of its carabiner-like ...

Nail stem cells prove more versatile than press ons

Nov 21, 2014

There are plenty of body parts that don't grow back when you lose them. Nails are an exception, and a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) reveals some of the r ...

Scientists develop 3-D model of regulator protein bax

Nov 21, 2014

Scientists at Freie Universität Berlin, the University of Tubingen, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) provide a new 3D model of the protein Bax, a key regulator of cell death. When active, Bax ...

Researchers unwind the mysteries of the cellular clock

Nov 20, 2014

Human existence is basically circadian. Most of us wake in the morning, sleep in the evening, and eat in between. Body temperature, metabolism, and hormone levels all fluctuate throughout the day, and it ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.