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A method for making instant steam, without the need for electricity, promises to be useful for tackling antibiotic resistant superbugs such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile,Â as well as removing chewing gum from pavements and powering environmentally friendly cars, reports Nina Morgan in Chemistry & Industry, the magazine of the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI).
The value of instant steam lies in creating truly portable steam that can be generated intermittently on demand, says Dave Wardle, business development director at Oxford Catalysts.
The company is already in talks with UK specialist steam supplier OspreyDeepclean about possible applications for steam cleaning hospitals, Wardle adds. An as-yet unpublished 2006 study at University College London Hospital, commissioned by OspreyDeepclean, showed that dry steam applied at temperatures ranging from 150 degrees Celsius to 180 degrees C could destroy bacteria, including MRSA and C. diff, in less than two seconds, without the use of chemicals.
The new technology, devised by scientists at UK firm Oxford Catalysts, employs a precious metal catalyst to generate the steam at temperatures up to 800 degrees C in just a couple of seconds, at room temperature and pressure. Steam produced by the technology is so-called dry steam, generated by the highly exothermic reaction between methanol and hydrogen peroxide. While too expensive to replace the vast quantities of steam used routinely by industry, a reaction chamber the size of a sugar cube can pump steam at a rate of 7 liters per minute at temperatures up to 800 degrees C.
Source: Society of Chemical Industry