New Device Can Atomize Viscous Disinfectants, Turn Them Into Breathable Mist


Disenfectant products of brand Lysol. / Photo by: Genuine500 via Wikimedia Commons


Powerful disinfectants such as triethylene glycol or TEG are available in liquid, and this makes cleaning troublesome with all the wiping of surfaces. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego developed a device to atomize disinfectants into a breathable mist, killing pathogens on contact.

Hospitals need constant disinfection in order to prevent the spread of pathogenic microbes between patients. Proper disinfection can help reduce the number of hospital-acquired infections caused by multi-drug resistant bacteria like Klebsiella pneumoniae.

"Cleaning and disinfecting environmental surfaces in healthcare facilities is a critical infection prevention and control practice. This device will make it much easier to keep hospital rooms clean," said Dr. Monika Kumaraswamy, the corresponding author of the study, quoted Science Daily.

The device they developed can atomize liquid disinfectants like TEG to effectively kill antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. They built it using off-the-shelf components for smartphones that emit acoustic waves. These components are normally used in smartphones to filter wireless cellular signals, as well as detect and filter data and voice information.

In this case, though, the researchers utilized said components to produce sound waves with very high frequencies between 100 million to 10 billion Hertz. The intense level of sound wave frequency created fluid capillary waves which can cause the atomization process, resulting in diffusion of droplets and mist.

While this process is seen in cologne sprayers and perfume products, mechanical atomization cannot affect fluids with high viscosity without the use of a greater amount of power. Also, mechanical atomization has the potential to break down the active ingredients in viscous fluids.

The device they designed simply uses the lithium nobate smartphone component which produces more reliable ultrasonic vibrations using relatively low energy. It can atomize the most viscous fluid and turn it into a mist that will last for more than one hour.

The researchers are optimizing their device to match certain settings, such as hospitals, airports, and public transportation.