Potato technology may help move mail

uses the extra oxygen atom to want to attach to something, and carbon is its favorite something. Since viruses and bacteria such as anthrax are virtually all carbon, those extra oxygen molecules attach themselves and create carbon dioxide. This oxidation cremates the bacteria.

However, ozone dissipates quickly, reuniting to form oxygen or carbon dioxide. You may smell it for only a few seconds after a lightning bolt strikes nearby. One of the tricks is delivering enough of a concentration for sufficient time to allow the ozone to work. Johnson solved this problem by developing a tunnel that potatoes travel through before being put into storage.

The INEEL research will reveal just how great the concentrations of ozone need to be and how long the ozone must be applied to destroy anthrax in mail. Preliminary tests subjected the simulant spores to concentrations as great as 12,000 parts per million for periods up to two hours. Biologists then try to grow bacterial cells from the 'ozonated' samples. No growth means the spores died and the process worked. Preliminary results indicate that a 60-minute exposure to high levels of ozone inactivates the spores.

"We couldn't pass up the opportunity to work with O3Co.," said Ken Watts, a manager in INEEL National Security research and development. "We have some theories we want to test and they have the infrastructure. The relationship is working so well that we're creating a CRADA (Cooperative Research and Development Agreement) to formalize it."

Other INEEL counterterrorism research areas include detecting nuclear material in a city using stationary locations and moving platforms such as taxis and buses, destroying biological agents with microwaves and accelerators, and developing lightweight armor for people and vehicles.

The INEEL is a science-based, applied engineering national laboratory dedicated to supporting the U.S. Department of Energy's missions in environment, energy, science

Contact: Kathy Gatens
DOE/Idaho National Laboratory

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