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Publication numberUS20060252974 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/401,649
Publication dateNov 9, 2006
Filing dateApr 11, 2006
Priority dateApr 24, 2002
Also published asCA2482667A1, CA2482667C, CN1649647A, DE60307259D1, DE60307259T2, EP1496999A1, EP1496999B1, US7592500, US8129579, US20040057868, US20090263501, WO2003090875A1
Publication number11401649, 401649, US 2006/0252974 A1, US 2006/252974 A1, US 20060252974 A1, US 20060252974A1, US 2006252974 A1, US 2006252974A1, US-A1-20060252974, US-A1-2006252974, US2006/0252974A1, US2006/252974A1, US20060252974 A1, US20060252974A1, US2006252974 A1, US2006252974A1
InventorsIain McVey, Lewis Schwartz, Michael Centanni, Gerald McDonnell
Original AssigneeSteris Inc., A Delaware Corporation
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Activated oxidizing vapor treatment system and method
US 20060252974 A1
Abstract
An oxidizing liquid (20), such as hydrogen peroxide, is vaporized (18) and the vapor is used to deactivate nerve gas, blistering gas, or other biologically active substances such as pathogens, biotoxins, and prions. A second chemical compound (42) in vapor, mist, or fog form is used in conjunction with the oxidizing vapor. In one embodiment, the second chemical preconditions the biologically active substances to be deactivated more efficiently by the oxidizing vapor. In another embodiment, the second chemical boosts the reactivity of the oxidizing vapor. In another embodiment, the other chemical reacts with the oxidizing vapor to form an intermediate compound that deactivates at least some of the biologically active substances.
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Claims(14)
1-17. (canceled)
18. An apparatus for deactivating biologically active substances including:
a means for subjecting the biologically active substances in an enclosure to a strong oxidant in a vapor phase.
19. The apparatus as set forth in claim 18 wherein the biologically active substances are biological or chemical warfare agents including one or more of chemical agents, pathogens, prions, and biotoxins.
20. The apparatus as set forth in claim 19 wherein the chemical agents include at least one of nerve gas and blistering gas.
21. The apparatus as set forth in claim 18 wherein the oxidant includes at least one of peroxy compounds, hypochlorates, and ozone.
22. The apparatus as set forth in claim 21 wherein the peroxy compounds include hydrogen peroxide.
23. The apparatus as set forth in claim 18 further including:
a means for adding a second chemical in vapor, mist, or fog form to the enclosure.
24. The apparatus as set forth in claim 23 wherein the second chemical does at least one of:
raises the oxidation potential of the oxidant vapor rendering the oxidant vapor more reactive against the biologically active substance;
preconditions the biologically active substance;
reacts with the oxidant vapor to generate an intermediate compound that deactivates at least some of the biologically active substances;
increases a number and variety of free radical species in the oxidant vapors; and,
adjusts pH.
25. An apparatus for deactivating biologically active substances including at least one of nerve gas, blistering gas, pathogens, prions, and biotoxins, the apparatus including:
a chamber means for receiving an object that has been contaminated with biologically active substance and isolating the biologically active substances from escaping to the ambient atmosphere, the chamber means including at least one inlet and at least one outlet;
filters mounted to the inlet and the outlet to block the biologically active substance from exiting the chamber;
a source of liquid oxidant;
a vaporizer which vaporizes the liquid oxidant from the source and supplies the oxidant vapor to the inlet.
26. The apparatus as set forth in claim 25 further including:
a source of a chemical vapor, mist, or fog which at least one of:
raises the oxidation potential of the oxidant vapor rendering the oxidant vapor more reactive against the biologically active substance;
preconditions the biologically active substance;
reacts with the oxidant vapor to generate an intermediate compound that deactivates at least some of the biologically active substances;
increases a number and variety of free radical species in the oxidant vapors; and,
adjusts pH.
27. The apparatus as set forth in claim 25 further including:
a source of a chemical vapor, mist, or fog which at least one of:
raises the oxidation potential of the oxidant vapor rendering the oxidant vapor more reactive against the biologically active substance;
preconditions the biologically active substance;
reacts with the oxidant vapor to generate an intermediate compound that deactivates at least some of the biologically active substances;
increases a number and variety of free radical species in the oxidant vapors; and,
adjusts pH,
the chemical vapor, mist, or fog source being connected to a second inlet to the chamber means.
28. The apparatus as set forth in claim 25 further including:
a source of a liquid chemical which at least one of:
raises the oxidation potential of the oxidant vapor rendering the oxidant vapor more reactive against the biologically active substance;
preconditions the biologically active substance;
reacts with the oxidant vapor to generate an intermediate compound that deactivates at least some of the biologically active substances;
increases a number and variety of free radical species in the oxidant vapors; and,
adjusts pH,
the liquid chemical source being connected with the vaporizer.
29. The apparatus as set forth in claim 18 further including:
a means for supplying ammonia vapor to the enclosure means.
30. The apparatus as set forth in claim 25, wherein the chamber means preheats the object to about 70° C. to allow extraction of the biologically active substances from the object to facilitate reaction between the biologically active substances and the vaporized oxidant when it is introduced into the chamber means.
Description

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/375,851, filed Apr. 24, 2002.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the art of treating articles with highly reactive oxidant vapors. It finds particular application in conjunction with deactivating biological and chemical warfare agents, such as blistering agents (e.g., mustard gas), acetyl cholinesterase inhibitors (e.g., nerve gas), and biotoxins (e.g., botulinum toxin) and will be described with particular reference thereto. However, it is to be appreciated, that the present invention will find application in conjunction with the oxidation of other substances.

Liquid oxidants have been developed which can deactivate biological warfare agents. See, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,245,957 to Wagner, et al. In Wagner, a strong oxidant solution is sprayed as a liquid or foam onto equipment in the field which is or has potentially been contaminated with biological and chemical warfare agents. After treatment, the solution is rinsed from the equipment with water, which can be permitted to flow onto the ground, as it is nontoxic. Although effective, the liquid Wagner solution has drawbacks. First, it is difficult for liquids to penetrate crevices, fine cracks, ducts, and partially protected or lapping parts. Second, in enclosed spaces, such as in the interior of airplanes and buildings, cleanup and disposal of the liquid solution can be problematic. Third, liquids can damage some equipment, such as electronic or electrical equipment.

The present application delivers the strong oxidant to the surfaces to be decontaminated in a vapor phase to facilitate penetration and cleanup.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, biological and chemical warfare agent residues are deactivated by oxidation with a vapor phase oxidant.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, a means is provided for oxidizing biological and chemical warfare agents with an oxidant vapor.

One advantage of the present invention resides in its improved penetration.

Another advantage of the present invention resides in its ease of cleanup.

Another advantage resides in compatibility with electrical equipment.

Still further advantages of the present invention will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading and understanding the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention may take form in various components and arrangements of components, and in various steps and arrangements of steps. The drawings are only for purposes of illustrating a preferred embodiment and are not to be construed as limiting the invention.

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic illustration of a vapor strong oxidant treatment system in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an alternate embodiment of the oxidant vapor treatment system;

FIG. 3 is another alternate embodiment of the oxidant vapor treatment system; and,

FIG. 4 is yet another alternate embodiment of an oxidant vapor treatment system.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

With reference to FIG. 1, a treatment enclosure 10 receives or is itself part of the structure potentially contaminated with biologically active substances such as biological or chemical warfare agents to be treated with vapor oxidant compounds. Typical biologically active substances include pathogens, biotoxins, prions, chemical agents such as nerve gas or blistering agents, and the like. The treatment enclosure, in one embodiment, is a chamber that is adapted to receive items to be treated and then sealed. In another embodiment, the enclosure includes the interior of a warehouse, room, aircraft or other vehicle, tent, or the like which is or whose surfaces or items contained in the enclosure are to be treated.

A warfare agent oxidizing means A includes a pump 12 that draws the environmental gas, typically air, from the enclosure through an optional biological and chemical hazard filter 14 or other means for preventing contamination in the enclosure from escaping and preferably through a dryer 16. In a preferred hydrogen peroxide vapor embodiment, the dryer also includes a catalyst that breaks down the hydrogen peroxide vapor to water for removal by the dryer. The blower blows the filtered and dried air into a vaporizer 18, which vaporizes a liquid oxidant compound from a liquid oxidant supply 20. The vapor is blown through another optional biological contaminant filter 22 or other means for preventing contamination in the enclosure from escaping into the chamber 10. Optionally, the output of the vaporizer is branched or fed to a manifold that feeds the oxidant vapor into the enclosure from a plurality of locations. Optionally, additional fans or blowers 24 are placed in the enclosure to circulate the vapor and improve uniformity of concentration and distribution of the vapor. The preferred oxidant liquid includes peroxy compounds such as hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acid. The use of other oxidants such as hypochlorites, solutions of ozone, and the like are also contemplated. Optionally, the oxidant compound is mixed with an alcohol to generate an alcohol vapor which functions as a cosolvent. When the materials in the contaminated structure permit, the temperature of the structure is preferably raised to 70° C. which allows extraction of the agent from the material and facilitates reaction with the oxidant vapor. Moreover, higher temperatures permit higher concentrations of oxidant vapor without condensation problems. Of course, when plastics or temperature sensitive electronics are involved, temperatures of 45°-60°C. may be preferred.

In the embodiment of FIG. 1, a chemical delivery means system B delivers other chemistry in a vapor, mist, or fog form directly into the enclosure 10. The delivery means B includes a source 42 of other chemical vapor, mist, or fog. In one embodiment, the other chemistry delivery system includes filters, blowers, and vaporizers, analogous to those described for the oxidant vapor. In another embodiment, a liquid chemical is sprayed with a misting nozzle or fogged with a fogger directly into the enclosure. In yet another embodiment, a reservoir or cylinder of the other chemical in gaseous form is provided.

The other chemistry in one embodiment is selected (1) to activate the oxidant vapor to a higher oxidation potential, (2) to increase the number and diversity of reactive species, (3) to precondition the target substances to make them more susceptible to attack by the oxidant vapor, or (4) to react with the oxidant vapor to form an intermediate compound that attacks all or some of the target substances. In one preferred embodiment, the oxidant vapor is hydrogen peroxide in a concentration of 25-75%, with about 50% preferred. In one embodiment, the other chemistry includes short alkene chains and water vapor, which interacts with the peroxide vapor to form a number of radical species, such as singlet pairs of oxygen, methyl radicals (CH3 ), hydroxyl radicals (OH), hydroperoxy radicals (OOH), and others. Alternately, the other delivery system delivers ozone, aldehydes, peroxy carboxylic acid, or the like to the chamber in vapor, mist, or fog. Optionally, UV light sources are used, in addition to or instead of, the chemical delivery system to enhance the reactive species.

In another embodiment, the other chemistry includes a condensable solvent vapor, mist, or fog that is miscible with water and produces a solution with reduced polar properties is condensed on the target substance. Suitable solvents include tertiary butyl alcohol (tBuOH), formic acid, peracetic acid, other alcohols, acetone, or acetyl nitrite.

In another embodiment, the other chemistry adjusts pH. To lower pH, acetic or formic acid is preferred. Ammonia is preferred for raising the pH. Typically, strong oxidants have a low pH which is advantageously raised to near neutral.

Although only a single other chemistry delivery system is illustrated in FIG. 1, it is to be appreciated that individual delivery systems can be provided for the various above-discussed other chemistries.

A control 34 controls the other chemistry delivery system or means B and the peroxy vapor delivery system or means A. In one embodiment, the peroxy vapor and other chemistry are delivered concurrently into the enclosure. In another embodiment, the other chemistry is added to the enclosure first to precondition the biologically active substances. For example, injecting a cosolvent vapor and allowing it to condense prior to the hydrogen peroxide for partially dissolving or otherwise making biologically active substances that are not soluble in the oxidant vapor more readily penetrated by the oxidant vapor are contemplated. In another embodiment, the oxidant vapor is added to the enclosure first to establish equilibrium and start deactivating the biologically active substances that are more readily oxidized. Then the other chemistry is added to boost the reactivity of the oxidant vapor or to generate an intermediate vapor compound to attack the remaining biologically active substances.

With reference to FIG. 2, a blower 12 a draws atmospheric air from an enclosure 10 a through a biologically active substance exit inhibiting means 14 a such as a filter or valve and a dryer 16 a. The blower blows the atmospheric gases through a vaporizer 18 a that vaporizes a peroxy liquid, preferably hydrogen peroxide from a source 20 a. The peroxy vapor is passed to a mixing chamber 40 a where the other chemistry delivery means B mixes the peroxy vapor with the other chemistry from a source 42. In one embodiment, the mixing chamber 40 adds water vapor and short chain alkene vapor, aldehyde vapor, peroxycarboxylic acid vapor, or the like, to the peroxy vapor to form singlet oxygen, hydroperoxy, and other reactive radicals. In other embodiments, solvents or pH adjusting compounds are mixed with the oxidant vapor in the mixing chamber 40 a. Alternately, the other chemistry reacts with the peroxy vapor to form an intermediate compound as described above. The modified vapor is passed through a biologically active substance escape inhibiting means 22 a, such as a filter or check valve, into the enclosure 10 a. The means 14 a and 22 a prevent contamination in the enclosure from migrating into the lines of the vapor delivery system. Optionally, another chemistry delivery system B′ delivers a preconditioning vapor, mist, or fog, ammonia gas, or solvent vapor, as described above, directly into the enclosure or into the mixing chamber 40 a.

With reference to the embodiment of FIG. 3, a blower 12 b blows the atmospheric air from an enclosure 10 b through a vaporizer 18 b of the oxidant vapor means A. The output of the vaporizer is split between one path 50, which delivers the vapor directly to the enclosure 10 b, and a second path 52 that delivers the vapor through a mixing chamber 40 b of the other chemical delivery means B to the enclosure 10 b. Valves 54, 56 in lines 50 and 52 are controlled by a control system 34 b for dynamically adjusting the proportion of the oxidant vapor that passes through the mixing chamber to control the amount of gaseous other chemistry introduced into the chamber.

With reference to FIG. 4, a blower 12 c pulls atmospheric air through a filter 14 c and blows it into a vaporizer 18 c. The vaporizer 18 c is connected with an oxidant liquid source 20 c and at least one additional. source of other chemistry 42 c. The oxidant liquid and the other chemistry(ies) are vaporized concurrently or sequentially in the vaporizer and fed to a treatment enclosure 10 c. Alternately, one or more other chemicals are supplied in gaseous form and mix in the vaporizer with the oxidant and other chemical vapors. Air from the treatment enclosure can be recirculated as described in the first three embodiments. However, in the illustrated embodiment, the air and vapor pass from the chamber to an oxidant and other chemistry deactivator 16 c such as a catalyst, and are blown through a biological filter 22 c into the atmosphere. Optionally, the embodiments of FIGS. 1, 2, and 3 can also be configured in this flowthrough configuration.

Various chemical reactions for activating the oxidant vapor to a higher oxidation state are contemplated. Looking to hydrogen peroxide, by way of example, hydroperoxy ions HOO and singlet oxygen 1O2 are potent oxidants. Analogous species and other potent oxidants can be delivered using gas phase delivery. In its simplest form, when the hydrogen peroxide makes contact with a surface, it transfers enough energy to the peroxide molecule for it to decompose into hydroxyl radicals. For example,
H2O2+M→2HO,
where M represents a collision with the biologically active substance, a wall, other object, other molecule, or the like. The hydroxyl radicals can go on to form other more reactive radicals by interactions with hydrogen peroxide and water vapor.
HO+H2O2→H2O+HOO
HOO+HO1O2+H2O
Hydroxyl radicals HO, hydroperoxy radicals HOO, and singlet oxygen 1O2 are all potent oxidants and are all present in hydrogen peroxide vapor to some degree. All of these radicals serve to inactivate biologically active substances including acetylcholineesterase inhibitors (VX, sarin, etc.), blistering agents (mustard gas, etc.), and biotoxins (botulinum toxin, etc.), biomolecules, pathogens, prions, and other similar biologically active molecules.

In addition to the radical generation steps, the hydrogen peroxide can dissolve or absorb onto/into the biologically active substance (i.e., dissolve into a liquid droplet, or absorb onto a solid particle). To enhance this dissolution/absorbtion, a cosolvent is added to the vapor and allowed to condense onto the surfaces of the equipment to be decontaminated. The solvent is selected as good solvents for the biologically active substances. By selecting a solvent, or solvents, miscible with water (and other polar solutes like hydrogen peroxide) but with lower polarity, the cosolvent layer can enhance the solubility of the hydrogen peroxide and its associated radical decomposition products in the biologically active substance so enhancing the rate of destruction. Examples of such cosolvent mixtures include: water and tert-butyl alcohol; water and acetonitrile; water, acetronitrile and isopropyl alcohol. By control of the mixture of solvent vapors, and hydrogen peroxide added to the enclosure, the composition of the condensate can be controlled to produce a liquid film on the surfaces to be decontaminated. By adding an alkaline gas soluble in the solvent mixture (ammonia for example), the pH of the condensed cosolvent layer can also be controlled. The presence of hydrogen peroxide in the condensate serves to lower the pH (35% aqueous H2O2 solution has a pH of approx. 3-4) and the ammonia can be added to raise the pH to the optimum value of around 8-9. Other suitable solvents include tetrahydrofuran, dimethylsulfoxide, acetone, acetaldehyde, propylene oxide, acetamide, diethylamine, and dimethoxyethane.

One way to enhance the generation of reactive radicals is by irradiating the enclosure with ultraviolet light at a wavelength that causes degradation of hydrogen peroxide. The increased degradation increases the concentration of radical intermediaries and enhances the decontamination effect.

Adding additional species to the hydrogen peroxide vapor also enhances the deactivation efficiency by increasing the number of reactive species present. Enhancing agents include ozone (O3), alkenes (CH3CH═CHCH3 or more generally RCH═CHR), aldehydes (RCHO), and halogens (Cl2, Br2). For example, the addition of ozone increases the yield of radicals and the vapor stream.
O3+h→O2+O*
Where atomic oxygen O* is not a radical (all its electrons have paired spins), but is highly reactive.
O*+H2O→2HO
O*+HOOH→HO+HOO

As another example, short chain alkenes are also effective:
RCH═CHR+O3→[intermediates]→HO+HOO
This produces radicals from ozone with a higher yield.

Other molecules, such as aldehydes, result in the presence of alkyl peroxy radicals:
RCHO+HO→RCO+H2O
RCO+O2→RC(O)OO
The product here is the alkyl peroxy radical, a radical of percarboxylic acid, i.e., if R is CH3, this radical is formed from peracetic acid, another strong oxidant.

As another example, the addition of peroxycarboxylic acids (RC(O)OOH) to the reaction enhances the concentration of alkylperoxy radicals.

By controlling concentrations of small organic molecules, such as alkenes, alkanes, aldehydes, carboxylic and peroxy carboxylic acids, water vapor, hydrogen peroxide, and ozone, a steady-state concentration of the reactive radicals can be maintained.

Halogens are also suitable strong oxidants. Where X is any halogen:
X2+h→2X
X+HOOH→HX+HOO
X+tBuOH→HX+tBuO
Where tBuOH—tert butyl alcohol is added as part of the cosolvent system.
X+H2O→HX+HO
X+RCH3→HX+RCH2
It can be seen that adding appropriate species to the vapor mixture, a wide variety of radical species can be produced.

Strong oxidants are effective to attack biomolecules including proteins, such as anthrax toxin, botulinum toxin, and plague toxin. Breaking down such toxins into smaller protein chain fragments renders the toxins harmless. Similarly, reactions in which the oxidizing radicals break bonds and replace chemical groups around the phosphorous atom, e.g., a substitution reaction as in acetylcholine esterase inhibitors render these molecules non or less toxic. Similarly, oxidation of the sulfoxide or lysis at one of the sulphide-alkyl bonds renders blistering agent molecules non or less toxic.

The invention has been described with reference to the preferred embodiment. Obviously, modifications and alterations will occur to others upon reading and understanding the preceding detailed description. It is intended that the invention be construed as including all such modifications and alterations insofar as they come within the scope of the appended claims or the equivalents thereof.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7651667Apr 10, 2006Jan 26, 2010The United States Of America As Represented By The Secretary Of The ArmyActivated vapor treatment for neutralizing warfare agents
US7993601Feb 20, 2008Aug 9, 2011Steris Inc.Vaporous hydrogen peroxide, ammonia peracid, hypochlorite, ozone; treat chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear contaminants; internal combustion engine, electric generator, condensing unit, evaporator, heat recovery coil; military applications
US8025848Jul 8, 2009Sep 27, 2011Steris IncApparatus for deactivating a pathogenic chemical agent
US8128888Feb 20, 2008Mar 6, 2012Steris Inc.Transportable decontamination unit and decontamination process
US8129579Jul 1, 2009Mar 6, 2012Steris IncActivated oxidizing vapor treatment method
US8153078Feb 20, 2008Apr 10, 2012Steris Inc.Transportable decontamination unit and decontamination process
US8163236Jan 25, 2012Apr 24, 2012Steris Inc.Transportable decontamination unit and decontamination process
US8182743Mar 1, 2012May 22, 2012Steris Inc.Transportable decontamination unit and decontamination process
US8216523Feb 20, 2008Jul 10, 2012Steris Inc.Fabric and frame; military; interior wall impregnated with catalyst to convert decontaminant hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen; gaseous ammonia; biological, chemical hazard filter; kill bacterial spores, viruses, molds, fungi on equipment; blower powered by solar cell or battery
US8329044 *Nov 29, 2011Dec 11, 2012Foret Plasma Labs, LlcMethod of treating fluids contaminated with anthrax or legionella using wave energy from a carbon arc
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US8603333Feb 4, 2013Dec 10, 2013Foret Plasma Labs, LlcTreatment of fluids with wave energy from a carbon arc
US8613856Feb 4, 2013Dec 24, 2013Foret Plasma Labs, LlcTreatment of fluids with wave energy from a carbon arc
US8628660Feb 4, 2013Jan 14, 2014Foret Plasma Labs, LlcTreatment of fluids with wave energy from a carbon arc
US8641898Nov 28, 2012Feb 4, 2014Foret Plasma Labs, LlcApparatus for treating liquids with wave energy from an electrical arc
US8734643Jul 20, 2011May 27, 2014Foret Plasma Labs, LlcApparatus for treating a substance with wave energy from an electrical arc and a second source
US8734654Jul 20, 2011May 27, 2014Foret Plasma Labs, LlcMethod for treating a substance with wave energy from an electrical arc and a second source
US8764978Jul 20, 2011Jul 1, 2014Foret Plasma Labs, LlcSystem for treating a substance with wave energy from an electrical arc and a second source
US20120067827 *Nov 29, 2011Mar 22, 2012Foret Plasma Labs, LlcTreatment of fluids with wave energy from a carbon arc
Classifications
U.S. Classification588/299, 588/300
International ClassificationA62D101/02, A62D3/115, A61L2/20, A62D3/00, A62D3/38
Cooperative ClassificationA61L2/202, A62D2101/02, A61L2/208, A62D3/38
European ClassificationA61L2/20C, A61L2/20H, A62D3/38