Mechanisms for the Destruction of Biological Surface Contaminants Treated with an Air Plasma

Period of Performance: 07/26/2002 - 07/26/2003


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Innovatek, Inc.
3100 George Washington Way
Richland, WA 99354
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

Old Dominion University
IA Div. Human Factors & Erg MGB 346X
Nolfolk, VA 23529
Institution POC


Effective decontamination technology is a national concern for both battlefield and other military applications as well as for terrorist situations. In the event of a bio-agent release, it is imperative that the affected areas are secured and exposed victims, equipment, and environment are decontaminated. Conventional thermal, chemical decontamination, or ultraviolet radiation technologies are not adequate in addressing these concerns. It is well established that atmospheric pressure plasmas effectively sterilize biologically contaminated surfaces. However, the physical mechanisms responsible for the destruction of spores and bacteria are not well understood. The focus of the proposed work is to establish the feasibility of techniques aimed at identifying and prioritizing kill mechanisms of bacteria. We will use diagnostic techniques to characterize an atmospheric air plasma and will conduct plasma decontamination tests of vegetative bacteria and spores, as well as extensive literature reviews of cellular and bacterial destruction mechanisms to accomplish this. The proposed research will ultimately lead to an optimized atmospheric air plasma decontamination system that has minimum power requirements. This development effort will lead to the creation of a device for destroying biological agent and disease organism surface contaminants utilizing a plasma decontamination system that does not harm the surface. The proposed device will be targeted to a wide variety of global scale markets, including civil defense markets and emerging commercial markets such as public health and food safety. Commercial success in meeting these needs depends on the development and demonstration of an inexpensive device that is adaptable to several market niches and uncomplicated from an operator's perspective. To take advantage of market needs, a key component of InnovaTek's business strategy is to work with collaborators to develop a commercially viable prototype using machinable low cost industrial design strategies. InnovaTek is in active discussion with an international company who will become the "launch customer" for our other biosafety and defense products. This same corporation is also considering an equity investment. They recognize the market potential for these technologies and are moving forward at an accelerated pace to complete their review of this overall opportunity. We plan to add this device to our suite of products that include bioaerosol collectors and bio-defense identification technology.