Articles, Blog

The Fourth State of Matter Could Scrub Viruses From The Air

January 5, 2020

Getting sick and having absolutely no way
to prevent it from happening: not ideal. While the medical community has made huge
strides in understanding how pathogens cause disease and developing treatments to fight
against infection, detecting airborne viruses and preventing them from entering our bodies
remains unreasonably difficult. And by difficult, I mean virtually impossible,
because there’s not a whole lot to protect us when we breathe. But there’s hope—and it comes in the form
of our fourth state of matter, plasma. Engineers just demonstrated a proof of concept
plasma reactor that inactivated or removed 99.9% of a test virus from the air in a fraction
of a second Prized for its powerful disinfecting qualities,
plasma has found applications in plenty of industries to chemically extract particles
from the air, but using it to target viruses is a totally novel application. Viruses are the most abundant biological entity
on Earth, and some of them, like measles and the common cold, travel by way of sneezing,
coughing, and breathing. And do they travel. Sneezes can launch germs up to 8 meters in
a matter of minutes, where many can remain alive in the air for hours. There’s even a theory that viruses are able
to hop on the backs of dust and soil particles and coast around the world on high-altitude
air currents. The global air purifier market is projected
to reach approximately 6.2 Billion U.S. dollars by 2023, so clearly this is a thing. And if you have one at home, it’s probably
either one that’s designed to trap particles in a filter, or deactivate them through a
chemical reaction. All have their downfalls. Electronic air filters like electrostatic
precipitators can be efficient for extracting particles, but they don’t remove gases and
smells and can produce harmful by-products. Mechanical systems, like HEPA filters, can
have difficulty capturing and removing all pollutants that enter an indoor space, especially
one that’s not air-tight. They also tend to have trouble with microorganisms
and bacteria bypassing the filter. Another type of air purifier, like ozone generators,
are specifically designed to deactivate or destroy pollutants. But they actually just release an inorganic
molecule that’s a toxic component of smog. So what makes plasma so promising? Let’s break it down. First observed by Sir William Crookes in 1879,
plasma is the fourth state of matter after liquids, gases, and solids. It’s comprised of a cloud of free-flowing
ions, or electrically charged atoms, but the cloud itself has no overall charge. While plasma exists when molecules are heated
to extremely high temperatures, it can also occur at room temperature if the molecules
are exposed to a strong electrical field. This is known as cold plasma, aka non-thermal
plasma, and it’s the kind we want to use if we want breathable air—I mean, normal
plasma could make things clean too, we just can’t breathe air at that high a temperature. Now, just to be clear, plasma is already being
explored by industries to take pollutants out of our air and water. But using plasma to rip viruses apart? That’s a whole new ball of electrons that
engineers at the University of Michigan just unraveled. Using a cold plasma reactor, they were able
to inactivate or remove 99.9% of a test virus from their experimental airstream in a fraction
of a second. It works like this: as the virus flows into
the reactor pipe, a large voltage is introduced to create an electric discharge, or spark. A bed of dielectric beads sandwiched between
the electrodes maintain the spark of plasma, whose unstable atoms oxidize the virus as
it moves through the pipe. Upon exiting, the virus is merely a shell
of its former self—with an extremely diminished capacity for infecting a host. However, it’s not entirely clear how cold
plasma works to inactivate viruses: it could be that the presence of the electric field
causes their shells to expand and rupture, or that the fragments of the air molecules
chemically attack them. But hey, it works. This successful proof of concept holds a whole
lot of promise for putting the brakes on airborne viruses. It combines both air purification and inactivation
of airborne pathogens, making it a more effective option for disease control than the air filters
we currently have. The University of Michigan team has already
begun trialing cold plasma’s effectiveness at nearby livestock farms, where the risk
of animals contracting airborne viruses is extremely high. Because if we breathe 3,400 gallons of air
per day, it’d be great if it were virus-free. And we humans breathe a lot, an average of
3,400 gallons per day. Did you know that sneezes can launch germs
up to 38 yards per second? If you want to learn more about viruses, check
out Sick, Don’t forget to subscribe for more Seeker. I’ll see you next time, thanks for watching.


  • Reply Life nature Pro May 18, 2019 at 4:21 pm

    Can you make a video about Warp drive

  • Reply Gideon Williams May 18, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    Do not, I repeat, do not ever get an ozone generator. If you have one, toss it, the ozone binds with certain oils your body produces and creates harmful compounds that you then breathe in.

  • Reply USER_SH4RP May 18, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    want to prevent sickness VACCINES this is for you anti-vaxxers also don't overuse antibiotics

  • Reply Ricardo De Leon May 18, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    This single proof of concept later revolutionizes our global santiation condition.
    Humans live in a generation cleaner than any before
    Sickness becomes to fade into a memory of the distant past
    As have all the fatal diseases we have eradicated.

    But, quietly and in the shadows, a bilogicical revolutuon is simultaneously ignited

    These Viruses, these biological mechanical structures that have an almost omnipresent dominance over the planet are now being contained and destroyed in frightening numbers.

    The tiny chemical comonents that make up life have an unbelievable stuburness to them.

    Change the formula in even a catastrophic way, and they

    A new generation, unfamiliar to these things
    These persistent invaders

    Humanity takes a hit
    A dip from our high
    Restabalizing back
    To before we though we had solved it all

  • Reply nick marc May 18, 2019 at 5:48 pm

    It debated that viruses are alive

  • Reply METO U May 18, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    Ozone destroys the cell walls of bacteria and viruses…this is not something recently found out

  • Reply watLegendsr May 18, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    Time to buy some Plasma reactor masks 😛

  • Reply Mark Andrews May 18, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    It seems utterly ridiculous to define PLASMA as the 4th state of matter. Do some research on the initial state of matter after the BIG BANG. What is the dominate state of matter in the UNIVERSE? Plasma was the FIRST and remains the foremost state of matter! The goal of physics is to understand the universe, challenge our scientific preconceptions not blindly follow legacy definitions still stupidly printed in textbooks.

  • Reply SUNNY MANHAS May 18, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    This kind of instruments make our body to produce less immunity and then leads to more problems.

  • Reply Max Mozzie Goose May 18, 2019 at 7:30 pm

    The other 0.1% of viruses
    I'm about to end this species whole carrier

  • Reply Anish Prakash May 18, 2019 at 7:43 pm

    Get those damn mosquitoes, not the viruses.

  • Reply Tyelor K. May 18, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    I can see this being widely used for clean rooms in the near future!

  • Reply Khloe Rabnta May 18, 2019 at 8:06 pm

    Wouldn’t it be kinda dumb to kill viruses 🦠 before they infect humans? Like for example when we get a virus we become immune to it usually and can’t get it again thus making us stronger in a sense. But if there was no viruses we would be very susceptible to things and would make us weaker. I tried to explain what I was thinking but it didn’t come out the best lol hopefully people understand

  • Reply lilepopinyou May 18, 2019 at 8:52 pm

    I thought you were talking about the blood plasma

  • Reply fanOmry May 18, 2019 at 9:08 pm

    Can cold Plasma be part of Cold Fusion? Or just.. Fusion?

    Have the original gas mixture be 10% radioactive.. like thorium fluorine with the rest being water and Ammonia.

    Once it's cold plasma.
    Accelerate it to the point the inner pressures are Almost enough to cause fusion.
    The natural radioactivity will provide the rest of the needed energy.

  • Reply Gr3nadgr3gory May 18, 2019 at 9:09 pm

    This just in: plasma kills things.

  • Reply EgadsNo May 18, 2019 at 10:11 pm

    That is going to generate ozone too though.

  • Reply dfpguitar May 18, 2019 at 10:48 pm

    But humans, just like every other animal are composite organisms who literally have viruses in our own DNA. Humans have reached a very good level of disease prevention through vaccines and hygiene. Any bigger step is uncessary and making a very bold change to humans as a species that we may not all agree with. If anyone says hospitals, the use of alcohol gels and antibiotics have created deadly superbugs. The future of health lies in learning to understand and exploit viruses, bacteria and fungi – not blindly attempting to filter or eradicate them.

  • Reply Andy Solomons May 18, 2019 at 10:48 pm

    Air through microwave oven would work too….big deal. Just another gimmick for Hammacher Schlemmer catalogs 👎

  • Reply M Z May 18, 2019 at 11:14 pm

    Very clickbaity title…

  • Reply corujariousa May 19, 2019 at 12:00 am

    This might have great applications in hospitals, submarines and aerospace industry.

  • Reply Renzokuken Leneyoyo May 19, 2019 at 12:36 am

    If we start breathing pathogen free air, how will our future generations adapt to ilments? How will the body generate antibodies, hell, should everyone live indoors in a bubble?
    The issue with livestock getting sick is that their genetics has been so manipulated so full of hormones, so full of unnecessary antibiotics that the superbugs that are being created there are the issue. We can't disinfect not it is a viable strategy to pretend to live moving forward in disinfected environments akin to bubble boy

  • Reply Nirmal V May 19, 2019 at 12:45 am

    It just removes the negative charge so it becomes positive it's just my assumption.

  • Reply 3TE May 19, 2019 at 1:11 am


  • Reply worthless and weird May 19, 2019 at 1:50 am

    im gonna stand near a huge metal rod and wait till lightning strikes me

  • Reply Arhash 1 May 19, 2019 at 1:53 am

    But, what if those viruses mutate after "plasmafication"?. Moreover viruses are known for mutate faster in adverse conditions.

  • Reply jason morgan May 19, 2019 at 2:02 am

    4th state or 12th human dimension electricity or magnetic fields that for some reason isn't shown to the general public. Why?

  • Reply BingBing BongBong May 19, 2019 at 2:18 am

    She looks like Denise Richards sister.

  • Reply deepvybes May 19, 2019 at 2:33 am

    Would have been very surprised if there are living diseases on the sun

  • Reply Kolby Martin May 19, 2019 at 2:42 am

    All air purifiers are bad…..we don't know why this destabilizes the virus, but hey, it works lmao

  • Reply QualityControlCentre May 19, 2019 at 2:46 am

    Wow you discovered plasma…perhaps describing the electric universe may follow…or probably not.

  • Reply ViktrB May 19, 2019 at 3:07 am

    Great except it looks like it'll be made ineffective due to factory farming, just like how Antibiotics have been already

  • Reply PointlessLifeHacks101 May 19, 2019 at 3:16 am

    But what about that’s 0.1%? Will they become immune to the cold plasma?

  • Reply Melinda Green May 19, 2019 at 3:22 am

    I wonder if there aren't some immune system risks with sterile air like there are with dirt.

  • Reply The Science Emporium May 19, 2019 at 3:28 am

    What about bacteriophages? They CANNOT infect humans. Also bacteriophages are natural predators of bacteria!

  • Reply 1chumley1 May 19, 2019 at 3:29 am

    Does this mean you can safely huff AIDS farts now?

  • Reply Miguel Garcia May 19, 2019 at 3:38 am

    I'm a virus

  • Reply Markus Orison May 19, 2019 at 3:39 am

    I am captivated or rather infatuated with this woman.

  • Reply Round Square May 19, 2019 at 4:24 am

    Lol, ozone "contributes to smog" now? Is this the magic ozone that travels into the stratosphere without binding to anything? In reality, ozone is a cheaper and safer way to acheive the same thing, which is why it is used to purify tap water.

  • Reply Zizi Mugen May 19, 2019 at 4:28 am

    2:20 is it appropriate to say that triple-bonded oxygen (“ozone”) is a component of smog? Yes it’s toxic on the ground, but it’s also found in the atmosphere. There’s an entire layer of it! Well, there’s a hole…

  • Reply Mogul DaMongrel May 19, 2019 at 4:29 am

    This is going to stunt your immune system, making one far more susceptible to disease, and making big pharma even richer.

  • Reply Wesley Harris May 19, 2019 at 4:57 am

    So what’s the next step living in a bubble. If you remove everything from our environment you will succeed in weakening our immune systems. I wish scientists/Doctors would stop pretending that they are smarter than our immune system and stop trying to take over its job. Next you will have to pay doctors to do the work of our once strong immune system. Stop trying to promote that it’s a cool thing sterilize everything. Studies actual show if a child grows up in a sterile environment they will grow up to have a weak immune system.

  • Reply Coolphoenix _07 May 19, 2019 at 5:47 am

    That 0.1% tho 😂

  • Reply Arnab Das May 19, 2019 at 6:13 am

    Hope plasma air purifiers are commercially available within my lifetime

  • Reply guru kannan May 19, 2019 at 6:50 am

    When we destroy virus in whole doesn't create imbalance between bacteria and virus which leads "no cure" for superbug

  • Reply Kearnu Phoenix May 19, 2019 at 7:43 am

    Look up GANS. This can heal you. It is part of the future of health.

  • Reply id104335409 May 19, 2019 at 11:30 am

    I have been using my plasma gun to kill viruses before their hosts can say "I come in peace!"

  • Reply Breakfast Club Sandwich May 19, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    Could have said plasma

  • Reply Madman0001 May 19, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    New air filtration system for Teslas.

  • Reply Zo Fryer May 19, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    So it works exactly like UVC light.

  • Reply Shadow Mcgold May 19, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    Only 99.9%

  • Reply BillyBob Bobbins May 19, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    … why not just have a filter than pumps the air through liquid iodine?

  • Reply nunya May 19, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    Kill all viruses and we'll have no immune system.

  • Reply Rick Sanchez May 19, 2019 at 6:47 pm

    Where the grapes at??????

  • Reply Kevin Hanley May 19, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    Is virus free air a good thing?

  • Reply Aki May 19, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    What about the costs though ? Is it even viable ?

  • Reply george dremsizis May 19, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    😂😂😂 αυθόρμητη

  • Reply BBB May 19, 2019 at 9:50 pm

    Does breathing it in cause issues though? Like does cold plasma in the air harm the body? Also won’t this make us less immune over time

  • Reply catalinacurio May 19, 2019 at 9:57 pm

    Every time I get stuck on a delayed airplane for hours, I become ill, this is a must for airline companies!

  • Reply Stephen Dickens May 19, 2019 at 10:45 pm

    They were wearing mask in the video, good video but ozone is bad for many people. I love my plasma ball but in an closed room over a few hours even the ozone from that can cause a nose bleed or make breathing difficult.

  • Reply Jameer Jabali May 20, 2019 at 1:54 am

    Doing this is gonna be similar to antibacterial soap and just create another superbug

  • Reply kishan patel May 20, 2019 at 4:21 am

    Seeker coming up with all the high tech stuff you never heard of and will never hear of.

  • Reply Roy Rice May 20, 2019 at 8:01 am

    What is wrong with UVC? So much simpler, just get a ultraviolet sanitizing light. They already have AC size UV’s

  • Reply ghoullegion May 20, 2019 at 1:06 pm

    Yea remove all viruses from the world then the day you catch a common cold you die.
    Neat ideas

  • Reply BurgundyandBlue1111 May 20, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    This is fascinating news! I would have enjoyed digging into this project as an engineering student decades ago (I was even accepted at the University of Michigan but chose Michigan Tech because it was more cost effective while still offering a high quality education).

    These students at U of M are so fortunate to do to investigative research on such an important project. 🙂

  • Reply DunnickFayuro May 20, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    Hot plasmas work well to remove pathogens too. Every time I fill my house with a 1000000 degrees plasma it is absolutely sanitized 😛

  • Reply DigitalArtCurationClub May 20, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    Good voice, cute ears

  • Reply BenjinNinGen May 20, 2019 at 11:13 pm

    I was literally daydreaming as this video played.

  • Reply Felix Gorney May 20, 2019 at 11:59 pm

    Another method of scrubbing the air and surfaces of pathogens is with a photocatalytic reaction. The source of the photons; a simple LED light bulb. No UV needed. See: Check it out and let me know what you think.

  • Reply Nozovic May 21, 2019 at 12:54 am

    My god just cover your cough kid

  • Reply The Last May 21, 2019 at 2:43 am

    Global plasma solutions. Nothing new. The university is just testing their ideas for agriculture. The military has been using this for years. GPS sells commercial units for home use.

  • Reply Nnish Anad May 21, 2019 at 9:21 am

    Used sparingly yes but like antibiotics not a substitute for an immune system

  • Reply Stefan Sarrazin May 21, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    Just like plastic , whatever it is, it works, 50 years later we’ll it’s the biggest polluant on earth

  • Reply Gordon McLellan May 21, 2019 at 7:38 pm

    Why do you say we don't have any protection from breathing airborne viruses? Do you mean an immune-compromised person? I thought the human body has all sorts of natural protections?

  • Reply Rice Fields May 22, 2019 at 6:49 am

    This technology could make hospitals and other places so much more sanitary and safe to be in. Or what if we just built a huge machine and blasted the world and killed a bunch of dangerous viruses

  • Reply Mr. World May 22, 2019 at 9:48 am

    why do many dislikes. cause of her resting bitch face?

  • Reply Mr. World May 22, 2019 at 9:53 am

    this tech works well in bathrooms where you don't need to worry about plasma destroying many electronic devices.

  • Reply Douglas Watson May 22, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    Sounds to me like the plasma is creating a lower specific gravity field for the virus 🤔

  • Reply 407 Atkinson May 22, 2019 at 9:14 pm

    No dammit then your immune system would just become really weak. You need some viruses to enter your body so your immune system can fight them off and become stronger.

  • Reply Anonymous Unknown May 23, 2019 at 5:12 am

    With the risk of sounding silly, (I'm absolutely no expert in the field) … if you tear the virus apart, is there a risk of accidental mutations in viruses that survive through the filter?

  • Reply Phantom Apprentice May 23, 2019 at 11:05 am

    Probably another technology we won't see due to patent trolling.

  • Reply Patrick Blais May 23, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    Well nice topic Maren but does some viruses make us more resistant? I mean if the air is totally virus free one day, if we are unlucky enough and get a flu, we might be too weak to fight it. Thanks for the video

  • Reply MyView May 23, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    What about acquired immunity? It will be disturbing to see mass deaths during power failures..

  • Reply ZEZERBING May 23, 2019 at 6:14 pm

    Now explain 99.9%??

  • Reply BOOBAWOOSKIE_ STEEZ May 24, 2019 at 8:29 am

    So they basically electrocuted the virus

  • Reply CJD Legendary May 24, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    Quick question, if 99.99% of viruses that enter this generator get deactivated or destroyed,
    What’s with the 0.01% that’s left over?
    Look, I get nature loves going full sci-fi on micro organisms, but damn,
    Do they have magnetic fields or something to protect themselves?
    I mean I get becoming chemically immune to something, but getting zapped and practically living?
    Someone explain, I’d like to know.

  • Reply sarah May 25, 2019 at 4:48 am

    why isn't this already a thing

  • Reply ConfusionFusion May 31, 2019 at 3:09 pm

    2:20 The first human to almost get struck by lightning was probably the first person to observe a plasma up close, not William Crookes. Regardless of my pedantic point, this was a great video. Very informative, interesting topic, and well narrated.

  • Reply dragoola69x June 2, 2019 at 2:58 am

    When Nikola Tesla was paranoid about diseases and bacteria he actually created a device that was essentially a human capacitor you stood on one metallic plate and you had another one on top of your head that using a small charge that would supposedly use static electricity to brush bacteria and particles off your body

  • Reply Evaluator HVAC June 9, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    A HVAC must if you care about your air. Plasma is proven.

  • Reply jÜRGEN Z'PPdN MrK'ez July 14, 2019 at 10:12 pm

    But without viruses we would never strengthened our immune system, remember what happened to the Aztecs after the Conquistadors arrived, thanks to the bubonic plague and such we become stronger and more resistant to viruses.

  • Reply Magical Drizzle July 28, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    It would be nice to breathe air which is virus-free.
    What if virii are an essential part of our ecosystem?
    What if after eliminating a lot of them we learn that we actually need them than we don't need them?
    Before making any large scale changes to our environment we must think of consequences.

  • Reply Rubens Fraga August 13, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    When does this technology arrive in air conditioners?

  • Reply Nathan Okun October 25, 2019 at 9:05 am

    Any fire is a plasma. It was not first "observed" by that scientist (not by a billion years or so); it was first understood and defined by him.

  • Reply Kargadan November 19, 2019 at 5:49 pm

    now lets just make a mask out of this and ill buy it!

  • Reply Mariano Alippi December 5, 2019 at 3:59 am

    I will not stop breathing and feel alive and free despite the fact that some may end up lifting you from behind.

  • Reply Mariano Alippi December 5, 2019 at 4:02 am

    Ok but taking a bit of care.

  • Reply Mariano Alippi December 5, 2019 at 4:40 am

    Breath 100% breathing, Maren is good and safe at it

  • Reply Mariano Alippi December 5, 2019 at 5:16 am

    Plasma solutions for Peter's Pans and Alice in Wonders.

  • Reply Richie Rich December 15, 2019 at 4:38 am

    Since when plasma was a form of matter and why haven’t I been taught that when I learned the other 3?

    I mean it definitely makes sense but that mean we have to categorize other BROAD substances? Might sound immature but the substance of an orgasm could be a broad matter. Solid or liquid?
    I’d have an answer for you until I found out plasma was neither 3 states of matter but somehow has all their attributes.

    Idk. Just someone help me understand cuz IM boutta make my own matter and sell it to science 🧪

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