Nonflammable alcohol vapor in CO2
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Non-flammable Alcohol Vapor in Carbon Dioxide (NAV-CO2) systems were developed in Japan in the 1990s to sanitize hospitals and ambulances. These systems were developed in response to a need for a safe, effective, and environmentally sound way of sanitizing without the use of toxic or corrosive chemicals. NAV-CO2 systems are used to sanitize contact surfaces where individuals may become infected.
NAV-CO2 systems use liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) as a propellant to dispense a 56% isopropyl alcohol solution in a heated stream of CO2 liquid. This technique allows alcohol to be used in an atomized vapor, capable of reaching nooks, crannies and crevices that would normally be beyond the reach of other disinfecting methods. Alcohol is a wide spectrum disinfectant that kills bacteria and viruses through denaturation. Sanitizing chemicals such as quaternary ammonium can also be added to alcohol based sanitizers to extend the killing time on surfaces.
Safety of technique
The use of CO2 as a propellant serves to displace ambient oxygen (one of the elements needed to support combustion) and eliminates the risk of explosion. The CO2 and atomized alcohol evaporate completely at room temperature, so no residue remains.
Effectiveness against pathogens
NAV-CO2 systems have been used to fight nosocomial infections and other pathogens such as:
Alcohol-based solutions have become the leading disinfectant in hospitals in the United States and are becoming more common worldwide due to convenience. Frequent hand washing with alcohol-based solutions is another effective method for the prevention of nosocomial infections.
Hospitals, ambulances, nursing homes, public waiting areas and food processing plants are just a few of the places where disease-causing bacteria and viruses are known to colonize. NAV-CO2 is a viable alternative to oxidizing sanitizers, such as bleach and other commercial products. Because CO2 is gas at room temperature, liquid alcohol evaporates off of contact surfaces within minutes after application. Surfaces do not require wiping, thus reducing the spread of pathogens on cloths. Alcohol and CO2 are also inexpensive and supplies are readily available.