Last month, I had the pleasure of visiting American Dryer’s headquarters in Livonia, MI. One of the reasons I went was to see first hand the new ExtremeAir CPC hand dryer, which is one of the most exciting developments in hand dryer technology in the past few years – a hand dryer that kills germs in the air and on your hands while it dries (starting at only $505!). I had many questions and was excited for the visit.
After a nice lunch with Mike Roberts (VP Sales and Technology) and Andy Karl (Sales Manager), we returned to the factory to discuss the unit. What I saw is a technology that is a little difficult to explain, but I will do my best.
First of all, American Dryer has been in business designing and manufacturing hand dryers in Michigan for several decades. The ExtremeAir line of hand dryers is their compact, high-speed dryer that has had great success. It has a 10-15 second hand dry, allows the owner to adjust the dry time and sound level, and comes in a heater-included version (the GXT) and a no-heater/low-energy version (EXT). In addition, the ExtremeAir has a very competitive price point.
Mike explained to me that, with the recent emphasis on hygiene in bathrooms, American Dryer was looking to improve on the product in an innovative way, and they came across research on Cold Plasma, or bi-polar ionization. “Cold plasma, or bipolar ionization, is nature’s way of cleaning the air and killing germs,” Mike explained. “It’s a technology that’s been used for years in other applications, including HVAC systems in hospitals to clean the air. We just needed to figure out how to incorporate it into our hand dryers.”
Cold plasma kills microbes by damaging their DNA and surface structures without causing any harm to human tissue. The bipolar ionization generator in the ExtremeAir hand dryer creates cold plasma discharge from the outlet nozzle of the hand dryer that consists of positive ions (H+) and negative ions (O2–) from water vapor in the air. These ions surround airborne microbes (bacteria, mold, virus) and transforms the ions are into hydroxyl (OH•) radicals on the cell membrane surfaces to rob the harmful substance of a hydrogen atom (H), severing the protein walls of the cell membrane inactivating them. The OH• radicals instantly bond with the removed hydrogen (H), forming water vapor (H2O), and return to the air. Did you get all that? I wasn’t great at biochemistry in college, but essentially, the ionized atoms kill the microbes.
In the past, generating plasma required very hot temperatures. With the recent development of room temperature "cold plasma," scientists and engineers in many industries are exploring the disinfecting possibilities of the technology. (see this New York Times article about the uses in healthcare).
I was very interested in the testing that they had done to prove the efficacy and safety of the CPC, and Mike and Andy were forthcoming with their testing data. The testing was done at EMSL, a highly-regarded CDC Elite certified lab. The testing (done in triplicate) involved blowing air from the nozzle of the dryer onto petri dish that had active cultures of various microbes and then assessing the kill percentage. The highest efficacy was with E. coli, where it killed 99.6% of the bacteria in 25 seconds. American Dryer estimates that the efficacy on hands will be even higher due to the moisture on hands after washing, which will create even more ions.
EMSL also successfully tested the efficacy of CPC technology to kill other harmful and microscopic pathogens including C. Diff, Staph, MRSA, and TB. In addition, CPC was tested for ozone safety to the tough California Air Resources Board (CARB) standards and was tested for electrical safety by Underwriters Laboratory (UL). For more information, the American Dryer CPC White Paper can be read here.
“Cold Plasma Clean technology was developed by our engineering team to create the most hygienic hand drying method possible,” says Mike. “CPC kills germs on and around your hands naturally, without chemicals. HEPA filters, the solution used by some manufacturers, may trap microbes, but can’t eliminate them, nor do the filters clean the air surrounding the hands the way CPC does.”
The idea of killing germs on your hands while you dry them is revolutionary, and we at NetDryers are excited to work with a great partner like American Dryer in introducing this product to the U.S. market. For more information, call us at 888-629-0685.