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Professor Darren Reynolds talks about the science behind electrochemical activated solutions

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In a series of tech talks, Professor Darren Reynolds lifts the lid on the science, sanitising performance and sustainability of electrochemical activated solutions (ECAs).

Darren Reynolds (BSc, PhD) is the Professor of Health and Environment in the Department of Applied Sciences at UWE Bristol. Here he and his team of scientists develop technologies that help to improve healthcare, food security and better management of our resources.

Darren has been working in the field of electrochemically activated solutions for over 25 years, and has proven that these are effective as a disinfectant.

Episode 1: Making the world a better place. [01:39]

“We spend a lot of our time researching and developing technologies with the general aim of improving people’s lives.”

Episode 2: The research behind electrochemical activation. [02:20]

“Over the last three decades, we’ve assembled a body of published research to put forward the case that electrochemically activated solutions serve as an alternative to other disinfection products.”

Episode 3: What is electrochemical activation? [04:40]

“Electrochemical activation is nothing new. In the UK, we’ve been drinking water that has been treated with chlorine for over 100 years, which is one of the largest public health interventions of the 20th century. We’ve simply adopted better technology that can be used at home or in the workplace.

“Electrochemical activation works by passing a weak salt solution through two electrodes. This electric current helps to produce the solution that’s so effective and gives raise to its microbial properties. The soup of excited products reacts with bacteria and interferes with the membrane wall. That interference results in the death of the bacteria.”

Episode 4: How effective is electrochemical activated solution? [04:14]

“In our research, we’ve tested this solution against a plethora of bacteria, including MRSA, E. coli and spores, and the results are always the same; we get substantial kill.”

“One of the advantages of using an electrochemically activated solution is the speed of kill of around two seconds of contact with a bacteria on a surface or in a suspension, which is faster than the speed of kill from traditional disinfectants, including alcohol and bleach, which typically takes 20 to 30 seconds.”

Episode 5: Using bioluminescence to test the kill kinetics of electrochemical activated solutions. [07:00]

“By applying bioluminescent DNA to bacteria, when alive it kicks out light, which we can detect. When the light goes out the bacteria is dead, and this helps us to visualise how long it takes these bacteria to be killed – and the kill is very fast.”

“Regrowth is also incredibly important and what we can do with bioluminescence is keep the low-light cameras rolling and come back the next day to see if the bacteria have grown back. Many disinfectants do not have the residual quality or kill enough bacteria in the initial application and this results in regrowth. When using ECAs that regrowth is virtually nil – sustainable long-term hygiene that we’re after.”

Episode 6: Where are electrochemical activated solutions used? [03:37]

“Electrochemically activated solutions represent a new type of disinfectant. By applying this solution to food, it will kill the bacteria, extending the shelf life of fresh produce. We’ve shown you can disinfect water to the same standard as that of the water supply to your house.”

“And it can be used by the general cleaning industry in our homes and workspace, and we’re working with companies across the UK to establish the use of this disinfection in these spaces.”

Episode 7: How can you use electrochemical activation solutions? [00.51]

“This solution is water-based, so it’s safe for humans. You can apply it as a mist, it can be aerosolised for use in large areas, you can freeze it and it maintains its properties, so it’s application is widespread.”

Episode 8: The environmental benefits of electrochemical activated solutions. [03:15]

“Conventional disinfectants are produced in large chemical factories, boxed in plastic containers and widely distributed. Once used, the empty bottle has to be disposed of and this has an environmental impact.

“In the UK alone, in relation to plastic drinking bottles we consume seven billion per year. That doesn’t take into account any other kind of plastic and disinfectants contained in plastic bottles contributes on top of that.”

“Electrochemical activated solutions can be made in situ and all you need is water and salt, and that reduces the resource burden almost overnight.”

“If everyone in western Europe adopted this approach that would have a significant reduction in the amount of plastics, energy and chemicals that we’re using and ultimately disposing. Some of which are finding their way into the environment at levels that are simply not sustainable.”

Episode 9: Challenge to adopt green technology. [02:12]

“I believe we all have a responsibility to drive change for good and leave behind a world that’s fit for purpose for our children. We have to work towards providing a sustainable solution and that means individuals, corporations and governments have to take the lead on this.”

“My challenge to you is to change and adopt innovative green solutions – I hope you do embrace change!”


Watch the full-length interview. [28:49]

Watch the full-length video of Professor Darren Reynolds talking about the science behind electrochemical activated solutions. And you can also find out more   
 Professor Darren Reynolds.


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