Cold atmospheric pressure plasmas (CAPs) have proven to be quite effective for surface disinfection, wound healing and even cancer treatment in recent years. One of the major societal challenges faced today is related to illness caused by food-borne bacteria and viruses, particularly in minimally processed, fresh or ready-to-eat foods. Gastroenteritis outbreaks, caused, for example, by the human Norovirus (NV) is a growing concern. Current used technologies seem not to be fully effective. In this work we focus on a possible solution based on CAP technology for surface disinfection. Many discharge sources have been studied for disinfection and the two major challenges faced are the use of expensive noble gases (Ar/He) by many plasma sources and the difficulty to scale up the plasma devices. The efficacies of these devices also vary for different plasma sources, making it difficult to compare results from different research groups. Also, the interaction of plasma with the biological matter is not understood well, particularly for virus. In this work, a two-dimensional array of micro dielectric barrier discharge is used to treat Feline Calicivirus (FCV), which is a surrogate for human Norovirus. The plasma source can be operated with an air flow rate (up to 94 standard liters per minute or slm). The use of such discharge source also raises important scientific questions which are addressed in this work. These questions include the effect of gas flow rate on discharge properties and the production of reactive species responsible for virus inactivation and the underlying inactivation mechanism. The plasma source is characterized via several diagnostic techniques such as current voltage measurements for electrical characterization and power measurements, optical emission spectroscopy (OES) to determine the gas temperature, cross-correlation spectroscopy (CCS) for microdischarge evolution and timescales, UV absorption spectroscopy to measure the O3 density, absolute IR OES to measure the O2(a 1Δg) density and spectrophotometry to estimate the NOx species density in aqueous medium. The results show that the discharge activity is strongly dependent on the gas flow rate particularly for gas residence times comparable to the applied high voltage cycle. The maximum difference in gas temperature at extreme plasma conditions do not exceed 50 K. The NO density is found to be reducing with smaller gas residence time. It is found that the reduced field E/N is dependent on the flow rate. The observed variation in the electric field is attributed to the change in the neutral gas densities. Both gas residence time and humidity have an impact on the space-charge distribution. The O3 density is found to increase with increasing power density and saturates at higher power above 12 W, and the maximum density of 1022 m-3 is achieved at an intermediate flow rate of 20 slm. An optimal condition for O2(a 1Δg) generation is found that is a balance between power and gas residence. Higher specific energy leads to higher increase of O2(a 1Δg) density as compared to the O3 density. It is also observed that the O2(a 1Δg) to O3 density ratio could be controlled by the flow rate from 0.7 to almost 0. The discharge source is used for FCV inactivation on surfaces (in the gas phase) and suspended in solution. Discharge power and treatment time have strong effect on the reduction in virus titer, while exposure distance or flow rate have negligible effect. Humidity plays a major effect on FCV inactivation on surfaces, leading to complete inactivation (>4 log10) within 3 minutes of treatment. FCV inactivation can be explained by O3 in gas phase and RNS in liquid phase. Nonetheless synergistic effects of ROS and RNS cannot be excluded, as similar production rates of O3 and NOx in discharge are determined. The O2(a 1Δg) density at conditions used for FCV treatment is at least 2 orders of magnitude lower than the ozone density and is not a dominant factor in the inactivation.
University of Minnesota M.S.M.E. thesis. June 2016. Major: Mechanical Engineering. Advisor: Peter Bruggeman. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 75 pages.
Two-Dimensional Microdischarge Jet Array in Air: Characterization and Inactivation of Virus.
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