The Fourth State of Matter Could Scrub Viruses From The Air

The Fourth State of Matter Could Scrub Viruses From The Air

Getting sick and having absolutely no way
to prevent it from happening: not ideal. While the medical community has made huge
strides in understanding how pathogens cause disease and developing treatments to fight
against infection, detecting airborne viruses and preventing them from entering our bodies
remains unreasonably difficult. And by difficult, I mean virtually impossible,
because there’s not a whole lot to protect us when we breathe. But there’s hope—and it comes in the form
of our fourth state of matter, plasma. Engineers just demonstrated a proof of concept
plasma reactor that inactivated or removed 99.9% of a test virus from the air in a fraction
of a second Prized for its powerful disinfecting qualities,
plasma has found applications in plenty of industries to chemically extract particles
from the air, but using it to target viruses is a totally novel application. Viruses are the most abundant biological entity
on Earth, and some of them, like measles and the common cold, travel by way of sneezing,
coughing, and breathing. And do they travel. Sneezes can launch germs up to 8 meters in
a matter of minutes, where many can remain alive in the air for hours. There’s even a theory that viruses are able
to hop on the backs of dust and soil particles and coast around the world on high-altitude
air currents. The global air purifier market is projected
to reach approximately 6.2 Billion U.S. dollars by 2023, so clearly this is a thing. And if you have one at home, it’s probably
either one that’s designed to trap particles in a filter, or deactivate them through a
chemical reaction. All have their downfalls. Electronic air filters like electrostatic
precipitators can be efficient for extracting particles, but they don’t remove gases and
smells and can produce harmful by-products. Mechanical systems, like HEPA filters, can
have difficulty capturing and removing all pollutants that enter an indoor space, especially
one that’s not air-tight. They also tend to have trouble with microorganisms
and bacteria bypassing the filter. Another type of air purifier, like ozone generators,
are specifically designed to deactivate or destroy pollutants. But they actually just release an inorganic
molecule that’s a toxic component of smog. So what makes plasma so promising? Let’s break it down. First observed by Sir William Crookes in 1879,
plasma is the fourth state of matter after liquids, gases, and solids. It’s comprised of a cloud of free-flowing
ions, or electrically charged atoms, but the cloud itself has no overall charge. While plasma exists when molecules are heated
to extremely high temperatures, it can also occur at room temperature if the molecules
are exposed to a strong electrical field. This is known as cold plasma, aka non-thermal
plasma, and it’s the kind we want to use if we want breathable air—I mean, normal
plasma could make things clean too, we just can’t breathe air at that high a temperature. Now, just to be clear, plasma is already being
explored by industries to take pollutants out of our air and water. But using plasma to rip viruses apart? That’s a whole new ball of electrons that
engineers at the University of Michigan just unraveled. Using a cold plasma reactor, they were able
to inactivate or remove 99.9% of a test virus from their experimental airstream in a fraction
of a second. It works like this: as the virus flows into
the reactor pipe, a large voltage is introduced to create an electric discharge, or spark. A bed of dielectric beads sandwiched between
the electrodes maintain the spark of plasma, whose unstable atoms oxidize the virus as
it moves through the pipe. Upon exiting, the virus is merely a shell
of its former self—with an extremely diminished capacity for infecting a host. However, it’s not entirely clear how cold
plasma works to inactivate viruses: it could be that the presence of the electric field
causes their shells to expand and rupture, or that the fragments of the air molecules
chemically attack them. But hey, it works. This successful proof of concept holds a whole
lot of promise for putting the brakes on airborne viruses. It combines both air purification and inactivation
of airborne pathogens, making it a more effective option for disease control than the air filters
we currently have. The University of Michigan team has already
begun trialing cold plasma’s effectiveness at nearby livestock farms, where the risk
of animals contracting airborne viruses is extremely high. Because if we breathe 3,400 gallons of air
per day, it’d be great if it were virus-free. And we humans breathe a lot, an average of
3,400 gallons per day. Did you know that sneezes can launch germs
up to 38 yards per second? If you want to learn more about viruses, check
out Sick, Don’t forget to subscribe for more Seeker. I’ll see you next time, thanks for watching.

100 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Do not, I repeat, do not ever get an ozone generator. If you have one, toss it, the ozone binds with certain oils your body produces and creates harmful compounds that you then breathe in.

  2. This single proof of concept later revolutionizes our global santiation condition.
    Humans live in a generation cleaner than any before
    Sickness becomes to fade into a memory of the distant past
    As have all the fatal diseases we have eradicated.

    But, quietly and in the shadows, a bilogicical revolutuon is simultaneously ignited

    These Viruses, these biological mechanical structures that have an almost omnipresent dominance over the planet are now being contained and destroyed in frightening numbers.

    The tiny chemical comonents that make up life have an unbelievable stuburness to them.

    Change the formula in even a catastrophic way, and they

    A new generation, unfamiliar to these things
    These persistent invaders

    Humanity takes a hit
    A dip from our high
    Restabalizing back
    To before we though we had solved it all

  3. It seems utterly ridiculous to define PLASMA as the 4th state of matter. Do some research on the initial state of matter after the BIG BANG. What is the dominate state of matter in the UNIVERSE? Plasma was the FIRST and remains the foremost state of matter! The goal of physics is to understand the universe, challenge our scientific preconceptions not blindly follow legacy definitions still stupidly printed in textbooks.

  4. Wouldn’t it be kinda dumb to kill viruses ? before they infect humans? Like for example when we get a virus we become immune to it usually and can’t get it again thus making us stronger in a sense. But if there was no viruses we would be very susceptible to things and would make us weaker. I tried to explain what I was thinking but it didn’t come out the best lol hopefully people understand

  5. Can cold Plasma be part of Cold Fusion? Or just.. Fusion?

    Have the original gas mixture be 10% radioactive.. like thorium fluorine with the rest being water and Ammonia.

    Once it's cold plasma.
    Accelerate it to the point the inner pressures are Almost enough to cause fusion.
    The natural radioactivity will provide the rest of the needed energy.

  6. But humans, just like every other animal are composite organisms who literally have viruses in our own DNA. Humans have reached a very good level of disease prevention through vaccines and hygiene. Any bigger step is uncessary and making a very bold change to humans as a species that we may not all agree with. If anyone says hospitals, the use of alcohol gels and antibiotics have created deadly superbugs. The future of health lies in learning to understand and exploit viruses, bacteria and fungi – not blindly attempting to filter or eradicate them.

  7. Air through microwave oven would work too….big deal. Just another gimmick for Hammacher Schlemmer catalogs ?

  8. If we start breathing pathogen free air, how will our future generations adapt to ilments? How will the body generate antibodies, hell, should everyone live indoors in a bubble?
    The issue with livestock getting sick is that their genetics has been so manipulated so full of hormones, so full of unnecessary antibiotics that the superbugs that are being created there are the issue. We can't disinfect not it is a viable strategy to pretend to live moving forward in disinfected environments akin to bubble boy

  9. But, what if those viruses mutate after "plasmafication"?. Moreover viruses are known for mutate faster in adverse conditions.

  10. 4th state or 12th human dimension electricity or magnetic fields that for some reason isn't shown to the general public. Why?

  11. All air purifiers are bad…..we don't know why this destabilizes the virus, but hey, it works lmao

  12. Wow you discovered plasma…perhaps describing the electric universe may follow…or probably not.

  13. Great except it looks like it'll be made ineffective due to factory farming, just like how Antibiotics have been already

  14. What about bacteriophages? They CANNOT infect humans. Also bacteriophages are natural predators of bacteria!

  15. Lol, ozone "contributes to smog" now? Is this the magic ozone that travels into the stratosphere without binding to anything? In reality, ozone is a cheaper and safer way to acheive the same thing, which is why it is used to purify tap water.

  16. 2:20 is it appropriate to say that triple-bonded oxygen (“ozone”) is a component of smog? Yes it’s toxic on the ground, but it’s also found in the atmosphere. There’s an entire layer of it! Well, there’s a hole…

  17. This is going to stunt your immune system, making one far more susceptible to disease, and making big pharma even richer.

  18. So what’s the next step living in a bubble. If you remove everything from our environment you will succeed in weakening our immune systems. I wish scientists/Doctors would stop pretending that they are smarter than our immune system and stop trying to take over its job. Next you will have to pay doctors to do the work of our once strong immune system. Stop trying to promote that it’s a cool thing sterilize everything. Studies actual show if a child grows up in a sterile environment they will grow up to have a weak immune system.

  19. When we destroy virus in whole doesn't create imbalance between bacteria and virus which leads "no cure" for superbug

  20. Does breathing it in cause issues though? Like does cold plasma in the air harm the body? Also won’t this make us less immune over time

  21. Every time I get stuck on a delayed airplane for hours, I become ill, this is a must for airline companies!

  22. They were wearing mask in the video, good video but ozone is bad for many people. I love my plasma ball but in an closed room over a few hours even the ozone from that can cause a nose bleed or make breathing difficult.

  23. What is wrong with UVC? So much simpler, just get a ultraviolet sanitizing light. They already have AC size UV’s

  24. This is fascinating news! I would have enjoyed digging into this project as an engineering student decades ago (I was even accepted at the University of Michigan but chose Michigan Tech because it was more cost effective while still offering a high quality education).

    These students at U of M are so fortunate to do to investigative research on such an important project. 🙂

  25. Hot plasmas work well to remove pathogens too. Every time I fill my house with a 1000000 degrees plasma it is absolutely sanitized 😛

  26. Another method of scrubbing the air and surfaces of pathogens is with a photocatalytic reaction. The source of the photons; a simple LED light bulb. No UV needed. See: Check it out and let me know what you think.

  27. Global plasma solutions. Nothing new. The university is just testing their ideas for agriculture. The military has been using this for years. GPS sells commercial units for home use.

  28. Just like plastic , whatever it is, it works, 50 years later we’ll it’s the biggest polluant on earth

  29. Why do you say we don't have any protection from breathing airborne viruses? Do you mean an immune-compromised person? I thought the human body has all sorts of natural protections?

  30. This technology could make hospitals and other places so much more sanitary and safe to be in. Or what if we just built a huge machine and blasted the world and killed a bunch of dangerous viruses

  31. this tech works well in bathrooms where you don't need to worry about plasma destroying many electronic devices.

  32. No dammit then your immune system would just become really weak. You need some viruses to enter your body so your immune system can fight them off and become stronger.

  33. With the risk of sounding silly, (I'm absolutely no expert in the field) … if you tear the virus apart, is there a risk of accidental mutations in viruses that survive through the filter?

  34. Well nice topic Maren but does some viruses make us more resistant? I mean if the air is totally virus free one day, if we are unlucky enough and get a flu, we might be too weak to fight it. Thanks for the video

  35. Quick question, if 99.99% of viruses that enter this generator get deactivated or destroyed,
    What’s with the 0.01% that’s left over?
    Look, I get nature loves going full sci-fi on micro organisms, but damn,
    Do they have magnetic fields or something to protect themselves?
    I mean I get becoming chemically immune to something, but getting zapped and practically living?
    Someone explain, I’d like to know.

  36. 2:20 The first human to almost get struck by lightning was probably the first person to observe a plasma up close, not William Crookes. Regardless of my pedantic point, this was a great video. Very informative, interesting topic, and well narrated.

  37. When Nikola Tesla was paranoid about diseases and bacteria he actually created a device that was essentially a human capacitor you stood on one metallic plate and you had another one on top of your head that using a small charge that would supposedly use static electricity to brush bacteria and particles off your body

  38. But without viruses we would never strengthened our immune system, remember what happened to the Aztecs after the Conquistadors arrived, thanks to the bubonic plague and such we become stronger and more resistant to viruses.

  39. It would be nice to breathe air which is virus-free.
    What if virii are an essential part of our ecosystem?
    What if after eliminating a lot of them we learn that we actually need them than we don't need them?
    Before making any large scale changes to our environment we must think of consequences.

  40. Any fire is a plasma. It was not first "observed" by that scientist (not by a billion years or so); it was first understood and defined by him.

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