| Published: May 8, 2010 – 10:03 am
O, there has been a spate, a flood (pun intended), of messages and web postings asserting that tiny bubbles cannot have any measureable, or even noticeable, effect on the world â€“ especially the enormous world of tiny germs.
This has come up on account of my involvement with Activeion, a company that sells a remarkable set of products: systems combining electronic and hydraulic devices to produce very, very small bubbles in water. Now when we say small, we are talkingÂ especially small, on the order of 50 nanometers in diameter. Thatâ€™s 50 billionths of a meter, which is somewhat less than a ten-thousandth of the thickness of a human hair, or a tenth of the wavelength of green light, for example.
I too was quite skeptical of the existence of what we now call nanobubbles. After all, one cannot easily photograph them with visible light. They are smaller than the lower limit of optical wavelengths.
Nevertheless, compelling calculations show that one in about 250 water molecules can be replaced with an oxygen molecule carrying an electric charge, and a nanobubble will persist for a substantial fraction of a minute.
That aside, I ran my own tests of the efficacy of what has come to be called â€śactivatedâ€ť waterâ€“ nanobubble-bearing water. From my direct experiments, I conclude that electrically charged nano-bubbles disrupt the cell walls of bacteria. Rigorous lab test show that they also denature viruses. As you look into this, you may come across the expressions, â€śbactericidalâ€ť and â€śvirucidal.â€ť
In science educator fashion, I baked very clean cotton swabs in an oven at 75 Celsius (170 Fahrenheit) for about an hour. I prepared a bacterial growth medium using boiled bouillon and gelatin cooled in sterile-baked aluminum dishes. I swabbed a number of household surfaces before and after I sprayed them with nanobubble-bearing water. I prepared otherwise untainted control versions of the medium in dishes. I left the dishes covered for three days at room temperature. The treated surfaces produced substantially fewer bacterial colonies on my growth media. My results are consistent with the rigorous results from ATS Laboratories in Minnesota. This lab routinely checks the efficacy of antimicrobial products, the kinds of things used in restaurants, cafeterias, and the like.
While nanobubbles cannot be photographed in conventional fashion, consider these recent micrographs of bacteria. Visit Activeion.com. Use your judgment. See if weâ€™re on to something.
Keep in mind also that the Tennant Company, which supplies floor and surface cleaning equipment to many institutions around the world, has incorporated nanobubble-generating cells in many of their floor washing systems for a few years. Skeptics like you and me have to consider that Tennantâ€™s customers buy these products for some reason.
What I find so appealing about these products is that they are a way to accomplish more with less. As you may know, I strongly believe that this way of thinking is the key to our future. We have almost seven billion people living on whatâ€™s proving to be a pretty small planet. If we can find ways to do more with the less, it will help many of us live into the next century.