Honors Gallery

D-FENS (disinfectant prayer for foods and environmentally-friendly sanitation)

Award: Excellence in Technology Transfer

Year: 2010

Award Type:

Region: Northeast

CCDC Soldier Center

The U.S. Army has primary responsibility for ensuring food safety for the U.S. military. To protect the health and well-being of warfighters from the spread of food-borne illness in global deployments, the Army seeks or leads the latest improvements in convenient and effective technologies to sanitize foods and food contact surfaces, particularly in battlefield kitchens. Food safety expert researchers from the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) have been working on solutions to this challenge. Specifically, NSRDEC researchers developed “D-FENS” (Disinfectant-sprayer for Foods and ENvironmentally-friendly Sanitation) as an innovative chlorine dioxide (ClO2) “green” technology that promotes the safety of human health and the environment. While D-FENS is directed toward food surface sanitization, it has additional applications in common living environments (e.g., showers, latrines) or combat surgical hospitals.

D-FENS uses a unique chemical combination and an innovative mixing method for producing ClO2 as an easily dispensable solution in convenient, small, batch-sized delivery systems. When combined with a collapsible spray bottle, the D-FENS technology significantly reduces the logistics issues associated with transporting disinfectants by providing a small, lightweight, “just-add-water” system. The chemical precursors are common reagents that controllably generate ClO2 onsite in neutral pH. ClO2 is a potent but user- and food-friendly disinfectant agent that readily kills molds, fungi, bacteria, and spores while still being safe for foods. Pre-existing commercial ClO2 technologies do not meet Army requirements for food sanitation because they use acids or require capitalintensive ClO2 generators. This conventional manufacturing process is frequently corrosive, costly, cumbersome, and completely unnecessary with D-FENS.

In May 2009, the D-FENS technology was transferred under a Patent License Agreement with ClorDiSys Solutions, Inc., a small business from Lebanon, New Jersey. This qualified licensee is incentivized to further refine the technology and its delivery system for the benefit of the consumer, and in doing so provide an environmentally friendly, noncorrosive product with superior surface-disinfectant properties, no unpleasant odor, and a controlled point-of-use generation of ClO2 with reduced logistics. These benefit both public and military consumers by reducing development risk, establishing economies of scale, and making products available to the government on an off-the-shelf basis.