Nanobubbles: New chemical-free alternative reduces the risk of foodborne illnesses within the aquaculture industry

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Microscopic bubbles of water, known as ‘nanobubbles’, invisible to the naked eye and 2,500 times smaller than a single grain of table salt, are being used in combination with ultrasound to help fight seafood-borne pathogens. With seafood consumption continuing to grow, providing a valuable source of daily protein to billions globally, the technology has vast potential.

Developed by US firm Moleaer, a leading nanobubble technology company, in partnership with researchers from Virginia Tech, the new method combines oxygen-filled nanobubbles with ultrasound to reduce Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Aeromonas hydrophila – leading causes of fish and shellfish illness disease.

Moleaer’s nanobubble technology injects trillions of oxygen-rich nanobubbles into water. When combined with ultrasonication, the nano-sized bubbles collapse and produce oxidants that inactivate pathogens and remove microbial biofilms. A recent Virginia Tech study observed nanobubbles effectively reducing the number of A. hydrophila bacteria by more than 6 log cfu/ml (colony-forming units per millilitre).

The process provides a chemical-free solution to sanitise and treat food for human consumption, preventing the spread of harmful bacteria. It could also be used to enhance conventional sanitiser’s efficacy, providing a more reliable and consistent method for eliminating bacteria that have built up resistance to commonly used chemical solutions. It also has potential beyond aquaculture, with researchers examining its use in cleaning surfaces throughout the food supply industry.

Based on our research, we found that nanobubbles when combined with ultrasound achieved a reduction in aquatic pathogens that are common causes of seafood borne disease and illness such as gastroenteritis,” explained Reza Ovissipour, assistant professor, Department of Food Science and Technology, Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Virginia Tech. “These findings provide a new antimicrobial approach for reducing fish and shellfish pathogens in our aquaculture industry.”

The Virginia Tech study follows earlier research carried out at Arizona State University’s (ASU) National Science Foundation Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Nanotechnology Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT) in September, which found that Moleaer’s technology created a chemical-free advanced oxidation process (AOP), degrading and removing organic pollutants from water.

Our technology has been tested and proven to eliminate or reduce waterborne pathogens, biofilms, and bacteria across industries,” concluded Nick Dyner, CEO, Moleaer. “We welcome the findings from Virginia Tech and are excited to be at the forefront of developing new, sustainable alternatives for treating and preventing bacteria and harmful pathogens our food supply. The latest results are another testament to our capability to restore aquatic health, improve water quality, and reduce the usage of traditional chemicals for treating water.”

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