Harmful organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, or other germs can cause considerable damage to people and the economy. As pathogens multiply easily in liquids, filter systems can be an effective countermeasure. AGXX catalyst technology can be integrated easily into filter systems to prevent the spread of dangerous microorganisms and to protect the filter itself from corrosion. This approach is centered around a completely new catalytic process based on precious metals.
Filtration plays a crucial role in ensuring high-quality water supply: for example, in wastewater treatment, drinking water supply, the use of household filters or the purification of swimming pool water. However, the filters themselves are also sensitive to contamination by microorganisms and biofouling. Therefore, people might become sick, and the materials of the filter devices whose real purpose is to protect might suffer increasingly from corrosion.
This is due to so-called biofilms that form on the surfaces of filter systems. They make pathogens more resistant to antimicrobial agents and at the same time affect the equipment materials. Estimates indicate that up to 20 percent of corrosion costs are due to such biological influences.
Numerous tests have now shown that AGXX technology prevents the formation of these biofilms without the undesirable consequences of conventional antimicrobial solutions. Those often release substances such as metal ions which can limit the effect duration and be harmful to humans, animals, and the environment.
The AGXX technology developed by Heraeus Precious Metals has already been tested in filters and, according to Martin Danz, Co-Head of Antimicrobial Technologies at Heraeus Precious Metals, combines five advantages: it has a broad-spectrum effect, lasts for a long time without releasing metal ions and is thus directly marketable in regulatory terms, it is based solely on a catalytic reaction with water and oxygen, thus preventing the development of resistance, and offering a range of applications far beyond the use in filter systems
A novel effect mechanism of AGXX enables these advantages. It makes use of the interaction between two precious metals and is based on redox reactions and microelectronic field effects. In this process, oxygen is converted into oxygen radicals (ROS) when combined with water from atmospheric moisture. "These highly reactive molecules reliably destroy all types of microorganisms and thus simultaneously prevent the formation of biofilms. We have proven this in tests against more than 130 different types of pathogens," emphasizes Marie-Lena Harwardt, Co-Head of Antimicrobial Technologies at Heraeus Precious Metals. At the same time, the developer points to the waste-free process: "In the end, all that remains of the oxygen radicals are water molecules."
AGXX is applicable on a particle basis in various materials. For use with liquids, it can be impregnated onto different types of activated carbon granules and pellets, which can be easily used in activated carbon-based water filters. As particles in powder form, it is particularly suitable for the use in textile or polymer filters. AGXX helps to prevent pathogens from spreading in an effective and long-lasting manner and thus significantly extends product life. In addition, AGXX can also be used effectively in other applications: the wide range of applications includes not only filters but also plastics, facade and antifouling paints, air-conditioning technology, protective masks, medical products or sanitary equipment.