If you were to compile a list of all the ways in which we use water, you would probably only get a fraction of the way done before you realized that, unequivocally, water is the most useful substance known to man. Let’s take for granted (as we usually do) the fact that it is life’s most necessary ingredient. Even if it wasn’t, we’d still be using water in all kinds of ways. In machinery, manufacturing, and sanitation – just to name a few areas – water is put to innumerable uses. Whether it is cooling down the engine of a car, being converted to steam to drive giant turbines and provide electricity for millions, rushing over falls and dams to create hydroelectricity, accomplishing Herculean feats of strength in hydraulic systems, converted into solid form for an ice-skater’s entertainment or the desire for a chilled beverage – everywhere we turn, water proves itself immeasurably useful.
Typically here at Hydration Anywhere we keep our focus on the hydration side of water: be it pure H2O or the beverage of your choice, drinking enough throughout the day to maintain proper hydration is vital for your good health. Yet every now and then we like to take a broader view of this most useful substance. Amazingly, in our era of science and engineering, brilliant minds have found novel uses for something as classic as water. A cutting-edge technology known as “plasma activated water” could now provide an eco-friendly alternative to harmful pesticides.
What is Plasma Activated Water?
For those unfamiliar with a plasma, the simplest way to think of it is as the fourth phase of matter. The other three phases being solid, liquid, and gas. Examples of plasmas in everyday life include neon lights, those weird electrical globe things you find in novelty shops, and lightening. While there are some much more in-depth definitions of plasma, it is beyond the scope of this article. Check out Wikipedia for more on plasmas.
So what does this all have to do with water – or pesticides? Well, a chemist-entrepreneur named Paul Leenders, working with a team of scientists, demonstrated that it is possible to disinfect one’s hands using an air plasma. By exciting nothing more than normal atmospheric air with electrical energy, Leenders’ team had found a method of disinfecting requiring essentially just electricity.
The problem the scientists’ encountered was the fact that air is, inherently, a pretty ethereal thing. It is hard to get a grip on. Distributing this air plasma required a continuous stream to disinfect, severely limiting its potential applications.
Amazingly, the solution to this incredibly high-tech problem was something as normal as water. Enter Plasma Activated Water.
Water + Air Plasma = Disinfectant?
The recipe almost seems to be too good to be true. Yet while consulting with a colleague about his troubles in the laboratory, Leenders’ was informed of a new technique which seemed to provide the answer to his struggles. When treated with an air plasma, normal water obtains the disinfecting properties of an air plasma. By simply treating the water with this air plasma, the disinfecting properties can now be distributed not only onto hands, but also as an alternative to chemical pesticides.
Leenders’ theory proved to be more than just a hunch after some experimentation. While it still has a long road of testing and verification ahead of it, this novel concept provides us with a peak into what the future might hold as we attempt to correct our ecologically devastating habits.
A TEDx Talk From Mr. Leenders
Check out this excellent 9-minute presentation on Plasma Activated Water, given by Paul Leenders at TEDx.
Other Evidence For Plasma Activated Water’s Disinfecting Properties
While we still don’t know the extent to which Plasma Activated Water could prove useful as a disinfectant, there is growing interest in this development. A study entitled “Non-thermal plasma-activated water inactivation of food-borne pathogen on fresh produce” was conducted at the Peking University in Bejing, China. In their research, the scientists demonstrated how Plasma Activated Water could be used to reduce food-borne bacteria. Their findings were promising. To quote the paper:
“Non-thermal plasma has been widely considered to be an effective method for decontamination of foods. Recently, numerous studies report that plasma-activated water (PAW) also has outstanding antibacterial ability. This study presents the first report on the potential of PAW for the inactivation of Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) inoculated on strawberries.”
These Chinese researchers are hardly alone in their findings. A quick peak at Google Scholar turns up a load of articles on Plasma Activated Water and its ability to shut down microbial activity.
The Disinfectant of the Future?
The jury remains out on whether we’ll see Plasma Activated Water replacing pesticides and disinfectants soon. We certainly hope that this development, or something similar, could prove to be a viable alternative to current methods, which have shown to have a devastating ecological impact. Yet regardless of if we see Plasma Activated Water become a revolutionary technology or not, it is undeniably a fascinating phenomenon worthy of our study and attention.
We’ll keep our eyes open for any updates on Plasma Activated Water technologies and be sure to bring new developments to our readers. If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to our Newsletter to always stay up-to-date on the latest from Hydration Anywhere! Thanks for reading!
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Learn about this amazing space-aged technology and how nothing more than regular water could become a powerful disinfectant.
Jacob Hatch is the author and founder of Hydration Anywhere. He has been actively writing about drinking water since 2013. These days Jacob spends most of his time investigating water related news, studying environmental issues, reading health studies, and reviewing products like water bottles and water filters.