Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Powerful electron beam generator could combat anthrax

02.08.2002


A physics professor’s invention to decontaminate industrial wastewater could become a powerful new weapon against anthrax.



Peter McIntyre and a group of colleagues at Texas A&M University have developed a cost-effective device to produce high energy electron beams that can break down harmful organic molecules in water - and destroy bacteria such as anthrax in food - or even on mail.

"William Cooper at the University of North Carolina showed that high-powered beams of electrons are highly effective in destroying organic contaminants in water," McIntyre said. "The difference here is that we’ve upped the power produced and reduced the cost, producing four times more energy at a unit cost per kilowatt five times less than any other such instrument."


Over the past three years, McIntyre’s team has developed the Coupled Multiplier Accelerator (CMA), a completely self-contained high-power electron accelerator that produces 100 kilowatts of beam power at one million volts, supports multiple independent beams and has a total capital cost of less than $500,000, representing a new, more affordable generation of e-beam technology.

Basically, McIntyre’s machine produces an electron beam like that found in CRT’s. The beam raster scans the contaminated water like cathode rays scan the inside of a TV tube, ionizing the water to produce free radicals and inducing both oxidation and reduction reactions which "digest" organic contaminants.

"The same process causes double breaks in bacterial DNA bonds, killing them," McIntyre explained. "It could be used to kill anthrax spores, which are five times more difficult to kill than bacteria like e-coli, because the spores encase the anthrax in a hard protective shell."

McIntyre expects the first commercial CMA to be in place at a Houston-area petrochemical plant by December. The technology has been licensed to a small Texas company which will operate the system there, where it will be used to treat a condensate stream containing methyl terbutyl ether (MTBE), a gasoline additive. MTBE is harmful to humans, and some of its secondary breakdown products, like formaldehyde and acetone, are even more toxic.

"The CMA is key to making lots of e-beam, supporting multiple beams needed for effective treatment in most real-world applications and doing it with a simple, reliable system that is economical for industrial applications," McIntyre said. "The basis of the technology is in every automobile - the alternator."

McIntyre’s CMA uses two 125 hp electronic motors to drive 16 alternators. Each alternator outputs a three-phase alternating current that is boosted by a transformer and rectified by a voltage multiplier circuit to produce high-voltage direct current. The 16 modules are connected in series to produce up to two megavolts of beam energy with up to 200 kilowatts of power. The entire accelerator - voltage source, electron guns and accelerator columns - is housed in a 14-foot-long, 9-foot-diameter pressurized steel vessel.

McIntyre’s CMA project team includes Texas A&M professors Akhdior Sattarov (physics), Bill Batchelor (civil engineering) and Bruce Herbert (geophysics) and Charles Meitzler of Sam Houston State University, as well as six graduate students, four undergrads and four professional technicians.

"You might say that man is the easiest organism to kill, but anthrax is one of the hardest," McIntyre observed. "We hope the CMA can equalize the odds a bit."


Contact: Judith White, 979-845-4664, jw@univrel.tamu.edu;
Peter McIntyre, p-mcintyre@tamu.edu


Judith White | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.tamu.edu/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht A better way to weigh millions of solitary stars
15.12.2017 | Vanderbilt University

nachricht A chip for environmental and health monitoring
15.12.2017 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>