The Institute of Plasma Research (IPR), Gandhinagar, Gujarat, has developed a technology to produce plasma-activated water (PAW) that has the potential to keep fruits and vegetables fresh.

PAW is produced by exposing water to non-thermal air or oxygen plasma. Sharing the details on it, S K Nema, who was involved in the research, explained, “Air plasma produces reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RON), which get dissolved in water and form PAW. It mainly contains nitrates, nitrites, hydrogen peroxide, ozone, etc. in a small quantity, which enhances the property of water to kill bacteria.”

“PAW kills micro-organisms present at the fruits’ surfaces and keeps fruits fresh for a longer duration in comparison to the normal water-washed ones. Further, the exact duration of freshness will depend on multiple parameters such as temperature, humidity, etc.” he added.

“It took two years for the scientists at the Facilitation Centre for Industrial Plasma Technologies (FCIPT), IPR, to develop this technology, and the research still continues,” Nema added.

PAW technology is being explored around the world on various aspects, such as wound healing, pesticide removal, microbial inactivation, etc.

Revealing the outcome of the research, Nema said, “We have got initial results such as killing of E coli bacteria in 15-30 minutes when it is exposed to plasma activated water.”

“Research is continue to enhance the oxidation-reduction potential value of PAW to make it more effective for  bacteria killing and efforts are being made to explore its possible use to benefit our farmers and the society at large,” he added.

“Initial study has shown that washing of tomatoes and potatoes in PAW kills the micro-organisms successfully and protect the surface of the produce,” Nema said.

PAW can substantially eliminate bacteria, fungi, micro-organisms present on the surface of vegetables and fruits and can be used for oral hygiene, teeth whitening, wound healing, etc.

Globally, PAW and mediums have shown enormous potential for a wide range of  applications in the biomedical and agriculture fields.