Non-damaging and efficient: Researcher develops plasma steriliser for medical instruments
BOCHUM, Germany: Conventional sterilisation methods are not always effective against all pathogens. By means of plasma, however, exceptionally resistant bacteria strains can be eliminated, as demonstrated by junior professor Dr Katharina Stapelmann from the Institute for Electrical Engineering and Plasma Technology at Ruhr-Universität Bochum. She has developed a steriliser that removes germs from medical instruments efficiently without damaging the material.
Stapelmann designed the sterilisation chamber as a drawer with a surface in DIN-A4 format to hold standard tablets for medical instruments. The drawer may also be used as a sterile container. “You can, for example, put a set that’s going to be used in an appendectomy into the device, sterilise it and store the closed container in the cupboard right until surgery,” explained Stapelmann. Compared with conventional processes, plasma sterilisation saves energy, is faster and does not use harmful radiation or carcinogenic chemicals. Unlike autoclaves, which apply moist heat, the process can be deployed for synthetic components and does not damage metal items, which an autoclave blunts within a short space of time. A prototype of the steriliser is already available. The researcher is now seeking an industrial partner to develop the product for the market.
A detailed article with photographs can be found in RUBIN, Ruhr-Universität Bochum’s online science magazine.