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Cold Sterilization of Plastic Containers

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

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Technology Marketing Summary

The sterilization of plastic containers for beverage, food and pharmaceutical products is a significant cost to the associated industries.  Currently, plastic containers are sterilized using heat, which necessitates the use of polymers that can withstand the high temperature without degrading or deforming.  These heat resistant polymers have a cost of up to 1.7 times that of comparable lower temperature products.  As such, any improvements in the sterilization process will have a large economic impact.

Additionally, carbonated beverage product bottles are often treated with large volumes of high temperature water and/or steam, which can be a significant issue in less developed countries, where potable water can be at a premium, as well as the energy required to heat the water.

A new technology using cold plasma discharge has been developed at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory that promises to lower the cost of sterilization of plastic containers. 

Description

Researchers at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory have developed a new process for sterilization of plastic containers does not employ heat, gamma radiation steam, hot water, or chemical agents.  The method uses a cold plasma discharge under partial vacuum conditions.  This new method lends itself to high speeds and volumes as sterilization takes place in seconds.  The process uses non-exotic equipment.  A functional prototype of the equipment has been tested.   Patent protection has been granted, US 6,667,007 and 6,403,029, both entitled "System and Method of Applying Energetic Ions for Sterilization".

Benefits
  • Reduces potable water requirements
  • Improves the energy efficiency of the process
  • Lowers the process cost
Applications and Industries

The technology lessens the water use, improves the energy efficiency and reduces the cost for the sterilization of plastic containers in the following industries:

  • Beverage industry
  • Food industry
  • Pharmaceutical industry
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Date
Patent 6,667,007
Patent
6,667,007
System and method of applying energetic ions for sterilization
A method of sterilization of a container is provided whereby a cold plasma is caused to be disposed near a surface to be sterilized, and the cold plasma is then subjected to a pulsed voltage differential for producing energized ions in the plasma. Those energized ions then operate to achieve spore destruction on the surface to be sterilized. Further, a system for sterilization of a container which includes a conductive or non-conductive container, a cold plasma in proximity to the container, and a high voltage source for delivering a pulsed voltage differential between an electrode and the container and across the cold plasma, is provided.
12/23/2003
Issued
Patent 6,403,029
Patent
6,403,029
System and method of applying energetic ions for sterilization
A method of sterilization of a container is provided whereby a cold plasma is caused to be disposed near a surface to be sterilized, and the cold plasma is then subjected to a pulsed voltage differential for producing energized ions in the plasma. Those energized ions then operate to achieve spore destruction on the surface to be sterilized. Further, a system for sterilization of a container which includes a conductive or non-conductive container, a cold plasma in proximity to the container, and a high voltage source for delivering a pulsed voltage differential between an electrode and the container and across the cold plasma, is provided.
06/11/2002
Issued
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
00-1664-1PrototypeAvailable05/17/201205/17/2012

Contact PPPL About This Technology

To: Michael Tyerech<MTyerech@Princeton.edu>