Development of a decontamination method using vapour phase hydrogen peroxide

The goal of the project is to investigate the use of hydrogen peroxide vapours for the decontamination of toxic compounds. The aim is to develop economical and environmentally friendly process for the degradation of a variety of toxic compounds used in pharmacy, chemical industry and healthcare. Vaporized H2O2 enables the decontamination of hard-to-reach surfaces and spaces (for example ventilation systems, porous materials or sewage system surfaces).

Research activities are divided into several topics. The main one deals with the VPHP decontamination cycle, the influence of various conditions (H2O2 concentration, temperature, humidity, pressure) and the mechanistic studies of the degradation pathways of tested compounds. Toxicology studies of degradation products are also conducted in order to determine the changes in biological activity. Tested compounds include simple organic molecules such as aromatic aldehydes or phenols, as well as clinically employed drugs from various therapeutic groups.

Another part of the research group deals with possible ways to increase the efficacy and versatility of VPHP by its combination with other chemical and physical degradation agents such as UV light irradiation, photocatalysis or the addition of volatile compounds.

In order to address the corrosive properties of hydrogen peroxide, we also investigate the resistance of standard construction materials under the atmosphere of vaporized hydrogen peroxide. Optical and electronic microscopic methods are used to assess the degradation of materials and to pinpoint the most reactive as well as the most stable ones. This study will help to apply VPHP method safely, without the risk of damaging valuable apparatus and equipment in the decontaminated sites.

Our results indicate the suitability of VPHP process for the decontamination of wide range of chemical compounds. The process is fast, effective and ecological. The degradation results in non-toxic compounds and the agent itself decomposes into water and oxygen (= “residue free process”).