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Killing Pathogens with a Fine, Salty Mist

Micro Aerosol Disinfecting SystemA microbial disinfecting system that kills with an activated salt spray is one of the latest innovations Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has successfully commercialized with the help of business partners.

Microbes — tiny bits of life such as bacteria, viruses and mold — can wreak havoc on our bodies by causing sickness and even death. Ranging from staph infections to Ebola, many microbe-caused ailments can now be prevented with the Micro Aerosol Disinfecting System.

The system turns a simple table salt solution into a fine mist containing natural molecules that disinfect an entire room. Tests have shown the system can kill at least 99.9999 percent of health-harming microbes. It could be used to disinfect hospitals, gymnasiums, schools and other enclosed spaces. It’s far more effective, easier to apply and less expensive than other disinfection methods.

It works by running an electrical current through a diluted salt solution, which creates super-reactive molecules, ions, and free radicals that have exceptionally strong disinfecting properties. A device then turns the activated solution into a micro aerosol mist, which is released into a room. The aerosol’s microscopic droplets disinfect the air and every surface. Its activated molecules destroy microbes inside a treated room within minutes to a few hours, depending on a room’s size and the amount of pathogens present.

Watertech Equipment and Sales LLC of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, licensed the Micro Aerosol Disinfecting System from PNNL. PNNL initially developed a prototype of the technology through a now-concluded DOE program that supported former weapons scientists in non-weapons research and development across the former Soviet Union.

The technology was further developed with internal PNNL funding and support from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which attracted Watertech’s attention.

The award recognizes PNNL’s extensive development and testing of the technology using internal funding to advance the technology to the point that Watertech licensed the technology just eight months after initially visiting with PNNL.

Watertech has adapted the system into an easy-to-deploy product to be sold for various uses, including hospital and clinical disinfection, mold remediation, and supporting the agricultural and food processing industries. The team recognized for transferring this process includes: PNNL’s Evguenia Rainina, Ron Thomas and Derek Maughan, as well as Watertech’s Glenn Barrett, Keith Johnson and Eric Frische.

The Federal Laboratory Consortium has honored the team with a 2016 Excellence in Technology Transfer award. The consortium is a nationwide network that encourages federal laboratories to transfer laboratory-developed, taxpayer-funded technologies to commercial markets.

PNNL has earned a total of 83 such awards since the program began in 1984 — far more than any other national laboratory. The 2016 awards will be presented April 27 in Chicago, Illinois, at the consortium’s annual meeting.

Image courtesy of Watertech Equipment and Sales LLC, adapted.

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