The aim of the project is the investigation of an autonomous, self-regenerating air filter system, which lead to the death of biohazards like bacteria, spores, etc. upon contact with the filter itself after the application of an electrical voltage to the filter module oxidatively destroys adsorbed chemicals harmful to health and thus cleans and detoxifies the filter.
Unlike conventional biocides, this technology uses electrochemically generated, short-lived reactive molecules that are generated directly in the filter module in short cycles. Starting from non-toxic compounds, such as water, common salt or air, hydrogen peroxide and hypochlorite are released – analogous to their use in the disinfection of drinking water. The raw materials are ubiquitously available worldwide even in crisis areas.
Depending on the type of electrode, electrical voltage and catalytic additives, voltages as low as a few volts can trigger chemical reactions on site. However, only in the immediate area of the surface, a sufficient concentration of the reactive chemicals is generated to deactivate chemical or biological warfare agents. The structure enables the in-situ synthesis of reactive chemicals from harmless precursors without endangering people or devices.
The power supply for vehicles comes from the car battery, but can also be taken from a normal socket or the vehicle electrical system. The voltage is less than 20 V is therefore harmless to humans.
The following areas of application of the sensor-controlled autonomous filter system are conceivable:
- Filters for biological and chemical warfare agents in motor vehicles, tents and military installations
- Filter systems in civil vehicles
- Filter for pathogenic germs (e.g. corona virus) and toxic chemicals in industrial plants and hospitals
- self-disinfecting surfaces
The starting compounds from which the reactive chemicals are formed electrochemically can be applied via an application system, such as spraying, to be applied to the filter surface. With integrated chemical sensors on an electrochemical and optical base, the amount of electrochemically generated reactive molecules formed shall be controlled, but also the amount of toxic chemicals such as warfare agents will be measured, and thus the entire filter system will be controlled.
The research project E-Steril is supported by the Österreichischen Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft FFG as part of the RTI initiative FORTE. It is assigned to the priority call “Defense Measures against NBC Hazardous Materials and Unconventional Explosive Devices” of the FORTE program. Under the leadership of FOTEC, Attophotonics Biosciences, the Österreichisches Forschungsinstitut für Chemie und Technik (OFI) and the Federal Ministry of Defense (BMLV) are researching the development of self-sterilizing filter systems.