Instant steam takes on MRSA

Jul 30, 2007

A method for making instant steam, without the need for electricity, promises to be useful for tackling antibiotic resistant ‘superbugs’ like MRSA and C. difficile, as well as removing chewing gum from pavements and powering environmentally friendly cars, reports Nina Morgan in Chemistry & Industry, the magazine of the SCI.

‘The value of instant steam lies in creating truly portable steam that can be generated intermittently on demand,’ says Dave Wardle, business development director at Oxford Catalysts.

The company is already in talks with UK specialist steam supplier OspreyDeepclean about possible applications for steam cleaning hospitals, Wardle adds. An as-yet unpublished 2006 study at University College London Hospital, commissioned by OspreyDeepclean, showed that dry steam applied at temperatures ranging from 150 to 180 C could destroy bacteria, including MRSA and Clostridium difficile, in less than two seconds, without the use of chemicals.

The new technology, devised by scientists at UK firm Oxford Catalysts, employs a precious metal catalyst to generate the steam at temperatures up to 800 C in just a couple of seconds, at room temperature and pressure. Steam produced by the technology is so-called ‘dry’ steam, generated by the highly exothermic reaction between methanol and hydrogen peroxide. While too expensive to replace the vast quantities of steam used routinely by industry, a reaction chamber the size of a sugar cube can pump steam at a rate of 7L/minute at temperatures up to 800 C.

The first application is likely to be a GumBuster backpack for removing chewing gum from pavements and other surfaces. The patented GumBuster technology currently requires a minimum of 3kW of electrical power to generate the steam used by each operator and relies on generators carried on trolleys or vans. Use of the catalyst technology ‘will make the system more portable and make it possible to place the steam when we need it, where we need it,’ says Thomas Stuecken, chief commercial officer at Proventec, the parent company of OspreyDeepclean.

Other more speculative applications for the steam for powering rockets and cars, and to provide mobile and portable power generation, are currently being considered.

Source: Society of Chemical Industry

Explore further: Solar cells get growth boost

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Unique solar lab shines year-round light in Stockholm

Feb 25, 2015

Stockholm is one of the world's most sunlight-deprived capitals for almost half of the year. But now, the city's premier technical university, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, is home to one of the world's ...

NETL invents improved oxygen carriers

Feb 24, 2015

One of the keys to the successful deployment of chemical looping technologies is the development of affordable, high performance oxygen carriers. One potential solution is the naturally-occurring iron oxide, ...

Accident-tolerant fuels ready for testing

Feb 10, 2015

Higher performance nuclear fuels could allow use in a reactor for longer periods of time along with enhanced tolerance to severe accident conditions. The summer of 2014 marked an important milestone toward ...

Recommended for you

Solar cells get growth boost

43 minutes ago

Researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University's (OIST) Energy Materials and Surface Sciences Unit have found that growing a type of film used to manufacture solar cells ...

Study could change nuclear fuel

4 hours ago

The adverse effects of radiation on nuclear fuel could soon be better controlled thanks to research involving UT's College of Engineering.

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.