August 1, 2007 — A method for making instant steam, without the need for electricity, promises to be useful for tackling antibiotic resistant 'superbugs' like MRSA and C. difficile, according to a report in Chemistry & Industry, the magazine of the Society of Chemical Industry.
Oxford Catalysts is already in talks with UK specialist steam supplier OspreyDeepclean about possible applications for steam cleaning hospitals, Wardle adds. An as-yet unpublished 2006 study at University College London Hospital, commissioned by OspreyDeepclean, showed that dry steam applied at temperatures ranging from 150 to 180 C could destroy bacteria, including MRSA and Clostridium difficile, in less than two seconds, without the use of chemicals.
The new technology, devised by scientists at UK firm Oxford Catalysts, employs a precious metal catalyst to generate the steam at temperatures up to 800 C in just a couple of seconds, at room temperature and pressure. Steam produced by the technology is so-called 'dry' steam, generated by the highly exothermic reaction between methanol and hydrogen peroxide. While too expensive to replace the vast quantities of steam used routinely by industry, a reaction chamber the size of a sugar cube can pump steam at a rate of 7L/minute at temperatures up to 800 C.
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