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Hydroxyl radicals: 'Nature’s detergent' that neutralises odours, viruses and bacteria in the air

A new study by Panasonic in collaboration with Osaka Prefecture University reveals that the powerful oxidising agent, which is found abundantly in nature and can be produced synthetically, may have an inhibitory effect on the COVID-19 virus.

Hydroxyl radicals: 'Nature’s detergent' that neutralises odours, viruses and bacteria in the air

To help achieve better indoor air quality, Panasonic has developed air conditioners equipped with its proprietary nanoe X Generator Mark 1 technology. Images: Panasonic

Why do our stuffy noses feel less clogged up when we are outdoors and away from indoor allergens? And what is it about outdoor air that makes it smell clean and fresh?

Much of it can be attributed to hydroxyl radicals, a powerful oxidising agent that is found in abundance in nature outdoors. 

With “detergent-like” properties, hydroxyl radicals interact and remove hazardous substances in the air, such as pollutants, viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms that can make us unwell. 

Now, new research has found that hydroxyl radicals may also inhibit SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus behind the COVID-19 pandemic. 

EFFECTS OF HYDROXYL RADICALS CONTAINED IN WATER

To create healthy environments and improved air quality for people around the world, Panasonic has been researching the effects of hydroxyl radicals in the last 20 years, and has verified its effectiveness in several areas, including the inhibition of bacteria, fungi, viruses and allergens. 

In the early 2000s, Panasonic researchers found that the hydroxyl radicals that primarily exist in outdoor air can be produced synthetically. By applying a high voltage to moisture in the air, hydroxyl radicals contained in nano-sized electrostatic atomised water particles are produced. 

Characterised by their strong oxidative and highly reactive effect, hydroxyl radicals contained in water can last 10 times longer and cover a wider area compared to their ion-based counterparts. Panasonic also found that hydroxyl radicals contained in water not only provide longer-lasting protection, they also have the added benefit of retaining moisture in skin and hair in indoor settings. 

With an understanding of the ability of hydroxyl radicals in fighting off viruses and bacteria in the air, Panasonic recently conducted a study with Osaka Prefecture University. Researchers evaluated the effects of hydroxyl radicals contained in nano-sized electrostatic atomised water particles on SARS-CoV-2 and found that they have an inhibitory effect on the virus – 99.9 per cent of the novel coronavirus was rendered ineffective within three hours of exposure to hydroxyl radicals contained in water. 

BRINGING ‘NATURE’S DETERGENT’ INDOORS

Hydroxyl radicals help to inhibit adhered pollutants on surfaces, such as viruses, bacteria and mould.

While hydroxyl radicals are important outdoor oxidants, their concentrations are generally low indoors. 

To help achieve better indoor air quality, Panasonic has developed air conditioners equipped with the company’s proprietary nanoe X Generator Mark 1 technology. According to Panasonic, this technology can produce 4.8 trillion hydroxyl radicals per second and penetrate into fabric materials, neutralising pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, mould, allergens such as pollen and house dust mites, and other hazardous substances.

Panasonic’s air quality products with nanoe X technology have already been adopted in people's homes, public facilities such as offices, hospitals and hotels, as well as in vehicles and trains.

KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF PANASONIC’S NANOE X AIR CONDITIONERS

  • Works without cooling operation

The air conditioner can purify the air without having the AC mode turned on. This results in lower energy consumption while helping to deodorise as well as inhibit pollutants and hazardous substances known to be found in PM2.5.

  • Comes with Comfort Cloud app

The Comfort Cloud app gives users remote control of indoor air quality via their mobile devices. With this smart feature, it is easy to pre-cool the room, monitor room temperature and switch off the air conditioner even when away from home.  

  • Removes odours

The nanoe X particles, which are smaller than steam particles, can penetrate into the deepest parts of fibres. This feature reduces frequently encountered odours, including cigarette smoke, sweat and damp smells, to ensure effective deodorisation. 

  • Benefits skin and hair

Panasonic's nanoe X technology can help to retain moisture in skin and hair in indoor settings.

QUALITY AIR FOR LIFE

A newer version of Panasonic’s nanoe X technology is in the pipeline. Expected to be released in mid-2021, Panasonic said its nanoe X Generator Mark 2 technology will produce 9.6 trillion hydroxyl radicals per second – double of that of Generator Mark 1, thus significantly enhancing its efficiency to inhibit airborne and adhered pollutants.

Said Mr Ryu Takehiko, managing director of Panasonic Asia Pacific: “In the current climate, we see an increasing demand for a healthy living environment, with consumers placing greater emphasis on improving indoor air quality. Panasonic is committed to pushing the boundaries for air quality improvement through our Quality Air for Life initiative and bring our nanoe technologies to a greater range of air quality products, to enable cleaner and better air for our customers in Singapore and the Asia Pacific region.”

Learn more about Panasonic’s nanoe X technology and how it can help achieve better indoor quality air.

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