AquaB was established earlier this year to commercialise a new energy-efficient method to generate and release substantial volumes of metastable, nano-scale gas bubbles in water.

University College Dublin (UCD) spin-out company, AquaB Nanobubble Innovations Ltd., has developed a novel method of generating ozone nanobubbles in water with commercial disinfectant applications.

Ozone (O3) is an inorganic gas molecule which has been used for over 100 years as a safe and effective disinfection agent in many industrial and consumer settings. It is 50 times more effective at disinfection compared to the most popular disinfectant – chlorine, and the effects of its action are visible 3,000 times faster.

It is a powerful disinfectant as it oxidises directly and penetrates a pathogen’s cell wall, thereby destroying the pathogen. However, in water, the half-life of ozone is approximately 30 minutes, limiting its disinfecting effectiveness.

“These ozone nanobubbles serve as ‘batteries’ – or reservoirs – to replenish continually solvated-ozone levels for hours”

Nanobubbles are extremely small gas bubbles that have several unique physical properties that make them very different from normal bubbles and are measured on the nanometre (nm) scale, (a human hair is ca. 60,000 – 100,000 nm wide). They are thermodynamically metastable for many months or even longer due to their enhanced gas-transfer properties.

Given these properties with AquaB’s new method of generating ozone nanobubbles, ozone lifetimes in the nanobubble-aqueous form are substantially increased over and above traditional ozone solvation in water by an order of magnitude. This overcomes the limitations of using conventionally solvated ozone as a disinfectant agent.

Ozone nanobubbles, which can be delivered as an aerosol droplet spray, have therefore the potential to be used as a more effective spraying method to ozonate, sterilise or disinfect, indoor spaces. These ozone nanobubbles can also be added to bulk liquid water and used to eliminate bacteria and viruses in wastewater.

The company was started earlier this year to commercialise a new energy-efficient method to generate and release substantial volumes of metastable, nano-scale gas bubbles in water. 

“Our plan now is to specifically test the ozone nanobubble technology, as water droplets in an aerosol spray, as an effective disinfectant against SARS-CoV-2”

This method is based on research carried out by co-founders professor Niall English and Dr Mohammad Reza Ghaani at UCD’s School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering.

“In our novel method of generating ozone nanobubbles, following direct ozone-gas generation, we apply our patented, energy-efficient nanobubble-generation approach in water via electric-field exposure, resulting in a combination of ozone (O3) and oxygen (O2) nanobubbles in solution,” said AquaB’s CEO Niall English.

“These ozone nanobubbles serve as ‘batteries’ – or reservoirs – to replenish continually solvated-ozone levels for hours, and their gradual diminution and depletion over these much longer timescales, compared to ozone in the gas phase or traditionally solvated state, affords this nano-bubbly water very potent steriliser or disinfectant properties – even more effective than chlorine.”

Dr Mohammad Reza Ghaani, CTO, AquaB added, “Our plan now is to specifically test the ozone nanobubble technology, as water droplets in an aerosol spray, as an effective disinfectant against SARS-CoV-2. This will hopefully help to liberate indoor spaces, and potentially crowded outdoor spaces, during Covid-19 for gatherings, whether professional, social or sporting.

“The company is also in discussions with a large-industry partner to help accelerate the commercialisation of the technology, and we also intend to liaise with public bodies.”

AquaB is a client company of NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs, and is working closely with UCD’s knowledge transfer team to accelerate the commercialisation of AquaB’s nanobubble technology.

Photo: Dr Mohammad Reza Ghaani, AquaB

By Stephen Larkin

Published: 11 September, 2020

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