Soft-X-ray-enhanced electrostatic precipitation for protection against inhalable allergens, ultrafine particles, and microbial infections

Eric M. Kettleson, Jill M. Schriewer, R. Mark L. Buller, Pratim Biswas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Protection of the human lung from infectious agents, allergens, and ultrafine particles is difficult with current technologies. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters remove airborne particles of >0.3 μm with 99.97% efficiency, but they are expensive to maintain. Electrostatic precipitation has been used as an inexpensive approach to remove large particles from airflows, but it has a collection efficiency minimum in the submicrometer size range, allowing for a penetration window for some allergens and ultrafine particles. Incorporating soft X-ray irradiation as an in situ component of the electrostatic precipitation process greatly improves capture efficiency of ultrafine particles. Here we demonstrate the removal and inactivation capabilities of soft-X-ray-enhanced electrostatic precipitation technology targeting infectious agents (Bacillus anthracis, Mycobacterium bovis BCG, and poxviruses), allergens, and ultrafine particles. Incorporation of in situ soft X-ray irradiation at low-intensity corona conditions resulted in (i) 2-fold to 9-fold increase in capture efficiency of 200- to 600-nm particles and (ii) a considerable delay in the mean day of death as well as lower overall mortality rates in ectromelia virus (ECTV) cohorts. At the high-intensity corona conditions, nearly complete protection from viral and bacterial respiratory infection was afforded to the murine models for all biological agents tested. When optimized for combined efficient particle removal with limited ozone production, this technology could be incorporated into stand-alone indoor air cleaners or scaled for installation in aircraft cabin, office, and residential heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1333-1341
Number of pages9
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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