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The University of Southampton

Ultrasonic device which enhances water’s ability to clean wins ‘Product of the Year’

Published: 5 September 2014
Starstream Award

New ultrasonic cleaning technology developed by the University of Southampton, which enhances water’s ability to clean, has been named as ‘Product of the Year’.

StarStreamTM, invented and patented by the University of Southampton and in commercial production by Ultrawave Ltd., was awarded the international accolade by S-Lab (Safe, Successful and Sustainable Laboratories) at a Gala Dinner at Kings College London. TM device supplies a gentle stream of water through a nozzle that generates ultrasound and bubbles, which dramatically improve the cleaning power of water with reduced additives and heating.The device’s ability to clean with cold water has the potential to reduce power bills compared with current commercial products and it can collect the used water and recycle it suggesting significant water savings compared with current commercial products). Furthermore, StarStreamTMcan work without having to add detergent to the water, which reduces costs, minimises the risk of run-off polluting groundwater and streams, and simplifies the task of turning the used water back into safe drinking water.
Dr Peter Birkin from Chemistry says: “This is a great example of blue skies research leading to direct commercial benefit to the UK.  Clearly funding these activities can have a direct benefit across multiple fields which cannot always be foreseen at the outset.  I am extremely proud of the central role of my group in Chemistry has played in the development of this technology and would like to particularly acknowledge Dr Chris Vian and Dr Doug Offin who played pivotal roles in during Starstream’s conception and development.

Recent independent testsfound that StarStream TM is 1,000 times more effective than water alone in decontamination tests of the microorganism Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a major cause of hospital acquired infections.

Professor Tim Leighton, from the University of Southampton’s Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, who co-developed StarStream TM, said: “We are extremely pleased with the performance of StarStreamTMand the partnership with Ultrawave Ltd. It has been a very long road from the initial idea to such a product.

“It would be hard to overstate the value of the Royal Society Brian Mercer Award, which rescued us by providing a platform to partner with Ultrawave Ltd. and by funding collaboration across the University to research new applications.”

Dr Birkin's group had pivitol roles throughout conception and development
Starstream development

John Melville, Managing Director of Ultrawave Ltd, said: “Ultrawave has been searching for the next big idea in ultrasonic cleaning for several years. We believe that by taking ultrasonic cleaning ‘out of the tank’, StarStreamTMis just that.

“We are very proud of our collaboration with the University of Southampton and delighted to be able to bring their innovative technology to market. The prestigious S-Lab award is another important feather in the StarStreamTMcap and confirms the potential for this unique cleaning technology in many diverse applications.”

The Royal Society Brian Mercer funding allowed expansion of the team: Nikhil Banda and Dr James Jiang looked at optimising the device; Professor Bill Keevil and Dr Rod Hervé and Dr Tom Secker (from the Centre for Biological Sciences) tested StarStream’s capability at removing proteins from surgical instrument surfaces; Dr Paul Stoodley and Dr Rob Howlin (from Engineering and the Environment) tested its effectiveness of removing biofilms (particularly with dental applications); and Professor Richard Oreffo and Dr Jon Dawson (from Medicine) tested the device’s ability to clean donor bone samples normally employed in orthopaedic surgery.

StarStreamTMhas previously won the 2011 Brian Mercer Award for Innovation from the Royal Society, and the 2012 Institute of Chemical Engineering Award for ’Water Management and Supply’.

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