Portable chemical sterilizer: electricity-free microbial decontamination using green chemistry

Picture this scenario—an Army medic is repair-ing wounds in a far-forward field station where not only are power generators unavailable, but their use is undesirable because of the noise and heat they emit. With a good supply of ster-ile medical equipment, the surgeon can patch wounds and save limbs and lives, even in such a remote location. Clean but nonsterile instru-ments are useless for saving lives—even in the hands of the most skilled surgeon—because they risk spreading life-threatening infections. To maintain a steady supply of sterile instruments, medics need a lightweight, durable, and reusable apparatus that can easily be transported and that conveniently sterilizes contaminated medical equipment without requiring electricity. This de-vice must be truly portable for rapid mobility: it should weigh 15-20 pounds and have compact dimensions. The sterilization process should be completed within 30 minutes.U.S. Army RDECOM-Natick Soldier Center-Combat Feeding Directorate researchers collab-orated with scientists from MRMC-Institute of Surgical Research and academia to invent, patent and transfer to commercial industry the Portable Chemical Sterilizer (PCS), a revolutionary med-ical sterilization technology that fills a critical capability gap for the Army while concomitantly advancing the frontiers of basic science. With the transfer of the PCS to private industry for commercialization, the PCS also benefits other federal agencies (Departments of Homeland Security and Defense), state and local govern-ments (emergency first responders), and private industry by creating new markets in community hospitals for emergency backup sterilizer units, and new global markets for equipment to support worldwide disaster relief efforts (tsunamis) and humanitarian aid in third-world countries (UNI-CEF, Doctors Without Borders).The PCS technology constitutes breakthrough innovative research that won a 2005 Depart-ment of the Army Research and Development Achievement Award for Technical Excellence and contributed to Natick Soldier Center’s win-ning the 2006 Army Small R&D Lab of the Year Award. More importantly, through the technology transfer process, the PCS technology is available to fulfill the missions of the military and other government agencies, and to meet the needs of the public in cross-cutting applications such as medical sterilization, decontaminating fresh fruits and vegetables, or sanitizing food handling equipment.
Award Year: