Non-flammable Alcohol Vapor in Carbon Dioxide systems (NAV-CO2) 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 58% 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.
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 of use. Frequent hand washing with alcohol-based solutions is another effective method for the prevention of nosocomial infections.
Although resistant pathogens (such as HA-MRSA) are most commonly traced to health care environments, the new community-acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) strains are now being found in schools, universities, athletic settings, and elsewhere. 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 any contact surfaces within minutes of application. Therefore, the surfaces do not require wiping. This reduces the spread of pathogens on cloths and other cleaning materials. Also, alcohol and CO2 are inexpensive and supplies are readily available.
References and notes
- Lauren Crawford, BS; Zhi-Jian Yu, PhD; Erin Keegan, BS; and Tina Yu (Nov 2000). "A Comparison of Commonly Used Surface Disinfectants". Infection Control Today.
- NAV-CO2 in Healthcare
- Biomist Inc.: Health Officials Discover New Technology to Kill Superbug MRSA; PRN News Wire; accessed October 2013.
- Health officials discover new technology to kill superbug MRSA