According to the current state, it is difficult and energy-intensive for industry and commerce to reduce contamination in the air. For example, chemical pollutants are often removed by large, energy-intensive combustion, and at hospitals, biological disinfection with chemical adjuvants is a standard practice.
The Plaskat project (short for plasma catalysis) is looking at an energy-saving and more sustainable alternative for the removal of chemical and biological contaminants. A plasma system is used, which holds five electrodes contacted on both sides. There, the application of high voltages creates surface microdischarges. When the discharges ignite along the grid on the electrodes, they light up and this creates the pattern that is visible in the picture. In the region of the discharge, high-energy electrons ensure that exotic chemistry can take place in the time of millionths of a second. This chemistry can help to convert the pollutants into non-hazardous chemicals. Through a cooperation with the German Aerospace Center, we are also investigating the inactivation of bacterial spores. If this works well, such a system could actually be used in ventilation systems and one can disinfect the air without having to use disinfectants. Because of the air temperature heats up only slightly during the process, it makes the process energy-saving. To further aid this chemical transformation, various catalysts are also used to make the reactions for the conversion more efficient.