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Drexel University, U-Mich, GW launching a plasma research center


By David Schwartz
Published: April 10th, 2018

Drexel University is launching a Philadelphia-based research center dedicated to the study of plasma, an activated ionized gas with potential applications in medicine, defense, food processing and a variety of other industries. Funding for the center – which is a joint project with the University of Michigan and George Washington University – comes from a five-year National Science Foundation grant.

The Center for High Pressure Plasma Energy, Agriculture and Biomedical Technologies (C-PEAB) will focus on teasing out commercial applications for plasma, which has gained greater attention in recent years with the arrival of technology that enables researchers to excite the gas in a pressurized environment. Drexel will partner with industry scientists to identify potential applications for high-pressure plasma technology.

“By deepening our understanding of plasma systems and how they interact with their environment, this work will help expand the use of low-temperature plasma for applications such as food processing, agriculture, fuel conversion, medical and industrial wastewater treatment, and many other new areas,” said Alexander Fridman, an engineering professor and director of Drexel’s existing Nyheim Plasma Institute.

The gas, considered a fourth state of matter, was first scientifically observed in 1879, when Sir William Crookes described it as a “radiant matter.” Chemist Irving Langmuir coined the term “plasma” in 1928, comparing the transport of electrons he witnessed to the way blood plasma carries red and white cells.

Researchers hope low-temperature plasma can be used to neutralize bacteria and viruses, contribute to the development of new energy sources, and help create new products in the pharmaceutical and bioengineering industries. More than 30 companies have already expressed interest in working with Drexel to participate in the new center.

“By providing an environment that focuses on fundamental understanding of these systems, combined with industry engagement through collaborative research, industry residencies and co-operative learning opportunities, we will accelerate the growth of low-cost repeatable solutions for the domestic high-tech industry,” Fridman said.

The Nyheim Plasma Institute has been operating for more than 15 years, and has collaborated with numerous companies including Johnson & Johnson, Air Products, Kodak, Lockheed Martin and Campbell Soup Company.

Source: PhillyVoice

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