Aiming to automate sterilization

Chris Anderson

NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ—Two new products, one using chlorine dioxide and the other hydrogen peroxide, hold the promise of automating sterilization of different environments, including entire rooms to barrier isolators and lyophilizers.

Aimed squarely at the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, Isodox from Advanced Sterilization Products, a Johnson & Johnson company, based here, and Clarus C from U.K.-based Bioquell Pharma, remove the need for work crews to perform sterilization and ultimately save users money and time in the sterilization process.

“I think any technology, whatever the active agent or mechanism was, that could sterilize or even disinfect without the labor that we currently have to expend would be a huge cost savings,” says Neal Kindness, COO, of Wayne, PA-based Microcomplete Inc. “And if they gave greater efficacy, that is sterilization, it would be revolutionary.”

This is just what the makers of the two systems promise, though each provides sterilization via different agents. Isodox uses chlorine dioxide gas as the kill mechanism, while the Clarus system has leaped the hurdle that prevented hydrogen peroxide from being used to sterilize environments as large as a room.

For Advanced Sterilization Products, the use of chlorine dioxide as a sterilizing agent is nothing new. The technology was acquired more than 10 years ago by Johnson & Johnson and deployed internally as a means of sterilizing the intra-ocular lenses the company manufactured. What is new is the development of the Isodox line to bring the sterilization technology to a wider market.

“We saw the potential for other component sterilization,” says Donna Majoris, product director, chlorine dioxide technology with ASP. “But we also saw the expanded potential of the technology for barrier isolators and other enclosed environments.”

Each Isodox unit can provide sterilization for four areas either pressurized or under ambient pressure and is a permanent piece of equipment. Once the sterilization routine has been set up in the system controller, activation is as easy as flipping a switch.

While automation reduces the need for sterilization crews to fog and wipe down rooms, the short kill time and aeration period for the chlorine dioxide used as the agent significantly reduces the down time for a room and equipment.

“With chlorine dioxide you can achieve kill within minutes compared to hours with a formaldehyde process,” says Larry Hughes, president of Alpha Engineering, Bear, DE. “This will encourage companies to sterilize their equipment on a more regular basis.”

The same principal applies to the Clarus C generator that uses a hydrogen peroxide vapor to achieve sterilization. Like Isodox, the Clarus high-velocity rotating nozzles used to deliver the agent into a cleanroom are always set up and ready to run. “Many rooms only go through the process on a very limited basis now, because sterilization is such a cumbersome task,” says Hughes. “This makes it such a quick and easy process, that people will do it more often.”

While the products are aimed primarily at the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, Hughes sees uses for each outside the research and manufacturing realms, especially as a means of helping to “cure” sick buildings.

Both have completed extensive testing in a variety of settings and should begin to make an impact on the market this year.

Each should have a lasting influence in the target industries. “After all, it's not as if new sterilization technologies just drop off the cart every day,” says Majoris.


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