“Energy efficient, increased nutrient uptake, fighting bacteria”

Using cold plasma technology to disinfect and oxygenate irrigation water

“In addition to its energy efficiency benefits, plasma-activated water with high levels of dissolved oxygen (DO) can lead to increased nutrient uptake without unnecessary overapplication of fertilizers. Moreover, the use of cold plasma to create reactive oxygen species (ROS) can inactivate or destroy bacteria without the use of harsh chemicals,” says Helen Boultinghouse, Global Marketing Manager of Ingersoll Rand. The company’s Ion Solutions technology uses cold plasma to enhance the very nature of water. The patented process injects nanobubbles containing stable and reactive oxygen, increasing the DO and oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) of the water.

Helen Boultinghouse, Chris Nantau, and Emrah Ercan of Ingersoll Rand at Cultivate 2022 in Ohio

“Simple but transformational”  
Helen explains that Ion Solutions is the world’s first system to offer dual-mode disinfection and oxygenation using patented cold plasma technology. “It is a plug-and-play system that features a small footprint, integrates seamlessly with existing cultivation facility operations, and is IoT-enabled for maximum visibility and control.” The Ion Solutions technology results in high-quality plasma-activated water that has dual benefits. “Firstly, the process provides energy-efficient, long-lasting oxygenation for healthy water quality. Secondly, the disinfecting advanced oxidation process (AOP) is capable of mitigating not only organic bacteria and pathogens but also inorganic pollutants.”  
According to Helen, the Ion Solutions ultra-fine bubble injection process involves a simple but transformational plug-and-play system. “Water and concentrated oxygen gas flow into a chamber in a specialized piece of equipment where patented hardware and software generate a layer of cold plasma from the oxygen and water. The cold plasma creates ions which are pushed via electromotive force into the water within the chamber. These ions are injected at the atomic or molecular level, creating nanobubbles of oxygen gas that stay suspended in the liquid. Naturally occurring ROS - key for disinfection - are also added to the water in controlled doses.” 

Energy efficient  
“Cold plasma technology is incredibly energy efficient. Unlike other oxygenation methods, such as air stones and diffusers, cold plasma is extremely efficient at injecting and keeping oxygen in the water.” A major reason that plant growth can stagnate at high temperatures is that water holds less oxygen as it warms, Helen explains. “The warmer water gets, the more difficult - and energy-intensive - it is to maintain DO levels. But with plasma-activated water, ultra-fine bubbles are maintained even in warmer water temperatures, keeping down energy costs associated with continuous water cooling. Ion Solutions is capable of maintaining high levels of DO in water at a broad temperature range. This novel feature can reduce CEA operators’ reliance on energy-intensive water chillers in their facility.” 
Helping plants thrive 
What will growers notice in their production when implementing the technology? “Plasma-activated water contains DO and increased ORP. In general, the higher the DO and ORP levels, the healthier the water. Higher amounts of DO in irrigation water help plants thrive. Research has shown that higher DO levels are correlated with increased growth, improved photosynthetic ability, larger yields, and even the increased nutritional value of plants. Meanwhile, increased ORP helps fight bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and Pythium. Water with elevated ORP also helps control algae growth and biofilm.” 
Ingersoll Rand has seen a lot of interest from cannabis growers, Helen says. “Cannabis tends to be a highly innovative industry with a huge return on investment for technologies that can improve yields. We are also seeing the excitement from the leafy green industry, where large growers are always looking for opportunities to reduce costs.” 
The team is currently conducting research studies with the University of Florida and field trials with commercial indoor growing enterprises to quantity exactly how their technology can impact growers’ production and quality. “We are looking for additional co-creation partners who are interested in getting early access to this technology to help us tune our control to specific crop types.” Interested companies can contact the Ion Solutions team online. 

Those interested in learning more about the technology can download the eBook “Unlock the Potential of Cold Plasma for Oxygenating and Disinfecting Water”. The eBook is complimentary for MMJDaily readers.

For more information:
Ingersoll Rand

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