Electrolyzed water is very green in the sense that the only input is table salt. It is lethal to microscopic bacteria.
Hypochlorous acid aka electrolyzed water, makers hope to disrupt the world of green disinfectants.Who knew that Google Glass would flop? Or that ceiling fans would enjoy a high-tech comeback? The best view of innovation often comes through the rear-view mirror.
It’s anyone’s guess where electrochemically activated disinfectants will fall on the oblivion-to-success spectrum. But a handful of entrepreneurs and established companies are hoping that janitorial crews will latch onto ECA technology as a non-toxic approach to killing pathogens. With coronavirus now a top concern, ECA products — also known by their active ingredient, hypochlorous acid — could be positioned to upend the $1.4 billion surface-disinfectant industry.
“It’s very green in the sense that the only input is table salt. And the output has a lot of good biocidal qualities but is the least toxic disinfectant you can find on the market place,” said Hungnan Lo, vice president for technical operations at Innovacyn, a longtime leader in ECA products.
Making electrolyzed water
The technology has been around for decades. Electrochemical activation relies on a simple reactor, or generator, that uses an electric current to scramble and reorder molecules of water and salt. That process produces two new liquids that happen to be useful for cleaning and hygiene: sodium hydroxide (better known as lye), which is a detergent, and hypochlorous acid, which is a powerful disinfectant.
Hypochlorous acid sounds almost too good to be true. On one hand, it’s less toxic to mammals than the active ingredients of many conventional, environmentally friendly disinfectants. It’s rated at the lowest level (Category IV) on the Environmental Protection Agency’s acute toxicity scale.