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Viruses are very small infectious agents. They infect and multiply within the cells of your body. A fever is your body's way of fighting off a virus. Many viruses are sensitive to shifts in temperature, so a sudden increase in your body temperature makes you less hospitable to viruses.
The new device is not only effective at killing viruses, it can actually prevent disease. And if the technology can be miniaturised, the authors say it may one day replace the century-old face mask, allowing us to breathe clean air on the fly.
"The results tell us that nonthermal plasma treatment is very effective at inactivating airborne viruses," says Krista Wigginton, a civil and environmental engineer at the University of Michigan.
"There are limited technologies for air disinfection, so this is an important finding."
Nonthermal plasma has been around for over a hundred years, in which time it's been thoroughly researched. It's a testament to the technology's potential that we are still finding uses for it today.
The concept sounds like an oxymoron, but nonthermal plasma is essentially like a flame without the heat, created using an electromagnetic reactor.
Sending pure oxygen gas through one of these special structures, the new device initiates an effect similar to static electricity. Plasma is merely the ionised, or charged, air particles that form around each spark.
The device looks like a simple pipe, but inside, it is filled with glass beads responsible for capturing these tiny little discharges. As electricity flows through the system, electrons are sent flying and atoms are pulled from their molecules, producing a silent glow.
The result is a host of free radicals, which are highly reactive particles desperate to reach a stable equilibrium by forming new compounds. The oxygen radical is particularly excited, and when it reacts with a normal molecule of oxygen at room temperature, it rapidly forms ozone, a known antibacterial agent.
Within minutes, previous studies have shown that plasma exposure can rupture a bacterial cell's wall, impairing and destroying its normal activity.
"In one study," the authors write, "a dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) NTP reactor with 10-second plasma exposure and a very high air flow rate (25 L/s) resulted in 97 percent E. coli inactivation."
The new device has now revealed a similar effect on viruses, successfully 'zapping and trapping' 99.9 percent of a test virus into submission - all within a quarter of a second.
"In those void spaces, you're initiating sparks," says engineer and senior study author Herek Clack from the University of Michigan.
"By passing through the packed bed, pathogens in the air stream are oxidised by unstable atoms called radicals. What's left is a virus that has diminished ability to infect cells."
originally posted by: rickymouse
Sort of like the vaporizers we had when I was a kid. They worked well.
We used to put our head within a towel to direct the steam over a pot of chicken soup, it had sage in it plus the onions smell. It would clear out your lungs and nose really quick. That was fifty years ago, I do not know exactly what my mother had in the soup but the soup was tasty, especially after your nose was cleaned out by the steam from the soup.