Posted on January 23, 2016 by admin

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If only my [ ___________ ] provided a certainty of performance – most of us would probably fill in the blank with Powerball number selection after the recent jackpot. Maybe you’d insert spouse, significant other, new employee? What would your customers fill in the blank with? At Sonix 4 Ultrasonics we thought one possibility they could insert would be “most critical step in sterile processing” so we developed our patented 4i Technology to provide certainty of performance and sustainability.

Models with 4i Technology have visual indicators that monitor the performance of the ultrasonic cleaner – we have the only ultrasonic cleaner design with a one to one interface between the ultrasonic driver and the transducer. Meaning each transducer has its own driving circuit that provides optimum signal matching resulting in more effective cavitation. Since we have a one to one interface we can monitor the performance of each circuit that is visualized with LED indicator lights – one LED for each circuit.

4i Technology with visual LED indicators along with the electrical and sonochemical quality checks at the factory provide a certainty of performance as long as all LED’s are illuminated. If one or more of the LED indicators is not illuminated it indicates that that circuit has failed and the unit is not performing optimally. A service technician can get the unit back up and running at full potential by following the non-illuminated LED wires to the driver circuit and replacing it – a 30 minute procedure. Once all the LED’s are illuminated again the ultrasonic cleaner is back to full performance.

So unlike your Power Ball number picking skills, or other brand ultrasonics sterile processing technicians know that their Sonix 4 Ultrasonic Cleaner with 4i Technology is performing to its maximum potential for the most critical step in sterile processing.

Posted on November 14, 2015 by admin

 sonixWhat’s the ideal temperature for maximum cleaning efficacy in an ultrasonic cleaner? The  short answer is – it depends.

The effectiveness of an ultrasonic cleaner depends upon its cavitation intensity – the number of imploding bubbles and the force of those bubbles.  The greater the number of bubbles and the forces exerted the better the cavitation intensity which results in better cleaning efficacy.  Give me the maximum number of imploding bubbles with the greatest force then you say?

There are a number of factors that play a role in the production of cavitation intensity – the most important being the forces exerted by the imploding bubbles.  As the temperature of an ultrasonic bath increases there is an increase in the number of bubbles formed; however, with the increase in temperature there is also an increase in vapor pressure and gas that cushion the forces of the imploding bubbles.  Forces generated by the imploding bubbles are dependent upon the amount of vapor and gas inside each bubble.  The less vapor and gas within the bubble at the time of implosion the greater the force.

So should your ultrasonic cleaning bath be hot creating more bubbles, or not for higher bubble implosion forces?  The optimum cavitation intensity is going to occur below 68° Fahrenheit (20° Celsius) so “not” would be the correct answer, but that’s probably not practical for most cleaning applications since the cavitation energy alone will generate temperatures higher than that.  Cavitation intensity, after gradually declining from the 68° Fahrenheitpeak can have upticks at various temperatures due to regassing and degassing of the liquid as the bath temperature warms and cools from use and idle periods.Although cavitation intensity may not be at its maximum potential it’s still possible to reap the extraordinary benefits of ultrasonic cleaning as there are many synergistic effects of combining heat (above 140°F) and acoustic cavitation such as increased solubility and reaction of contaminants.

So generally speaking “hot” would also be a correct answer to the question posed, “what’s the ideal temperature for maximum cleaning efficacy in an ultrasonic cleaner?”  Although there is not a specific temperature that should be used to achieve maximum cavitation if it’s not practical to keep the temperature under 68°F it’s better to get the temperature up around 140°F to realize synergistic benefits and achieve optimum results.  As temperatures rise in the ultrasonic bath it’s possible to fluctuate the liquid depth to improve cavitation intensity.  A liquid depth change of as little as ¼ inch can have an impact on cavitation intensity, but be careful there are minimum liquid levels that should be maintained on units fitted with heater elements.

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Posted on October 14, 2015 by admin

Healthcare facilities continually struggle to determine if surgical instruments are safe for use.  Unfortunately, many surgical instruments that have gone through the sterile processing procedure and determined safe for use are not safe resulting in patient infections and death. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has suggested that these infectionsare caused by common and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens due to the use of unsterile surgical equipment. As such, there is a relentlesspursuit of improvement and in the selection and execution of cleaning and sterilization methods to ensure patient safety.

One of these pursuits has been the development of enzymatic cleaning solutions – cleaning solutions with enzymes added that react to attack proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and various salts that exist in blood and body fluids.  These enzyme based cleaning solutions have proven to be very helpful towards improving the safety of surgical instruments when used in conventional cleaning equipment such as spray washers.  However, when used with ultrasonic cleaning equipment the results have not been as favorable.

Enzymes are a broad-ranging family of proteins that play a variety of roles, including those that can be exploited during the cleaning of medical and dental devices. For example, proteases are enzymes that can facilitate the removal of residual human proteins on medical and dental equipment via proteolytic degradation. Other important examples include lipases, which remove fat, and amylases, which break down starches. In theory, enzymatic solutions could be used at two different stages during ultrasonic cleaning: during the pre-soak phase and during the cleaning phase.

The use of enzymes as a pre-soak prior to cleaning is efficacious, and the CDC has performed detailed studies comparing different methods (http://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/pdf/guidelines/Disinfection_Nov_2008.pdf). In addition, comparisons have revealed that the use of pre-soak solutions prior to ultrasonic cleaning results in more effective cleaning and sterilization compared with ultrasonic cleaning alone (1).

Ultrasonic cleaning systems have been used for sterile processing for many years -perhaps not as prominently as they should.  Sonication allows intricate, complicated, and specialized instruments to be both cleaned and disinfected. The creation of cavitation bubbles in the bath allows for cleaning to occur on a microscopic level by taking advantage of the immense pressures and high temperatures created at the moment of implosion.Furthermore, the violent collapse of these bubbles results in the formation of hydrogen atoms and hydroxyl radicals, which combine to form hydrogen peroxide and promote oxidation reactions. Ultrasonic cleaners can be used either with water or a water-based solution alone, or with enzymatic solutions during or immediately before the cleaning procedure.

When considering the use of enzyme-based solutions during ultrasonic cleaning, it is important to note that enzymes and enzymatic solutions function best at physiological temperature (37°C) or at room temperature.Ultrasonic cleaners generate powerful cavitations and high temperatures, which are likely to denature enzymes and limit or eliminate their activitycompletely. Furthermore, the powerfulenergy forcesgenerated by sonication also denature enzymes and thereby render them useless for cleaning purposes. Consistent with this, previous studies have revealed that that there is little difference between the cleaning achieved using tap water compared with enzyme-containing ultrasonic cleaning agents.

At Sonix4 Ultrasonics, we design and manufacture ultrasonic cleaning systems using the optimum cleaning and oxidizing frequency, and adhere to scientifically peer-reviewed methods to ensure that the highest level of decontamination occurs. Ultrasonic cleaning is the most powerful, efficient and sustainable choice for sterile processing of surgical instruments.  Low energy consumption, short cleaning cycles with high throughput, and elimination of environmentally negative and costly cleaning solutions save both time and money. To further increase efficiency and reduce operating costs we do not recommend the use of enzyme-based solutions during the ultrasonic cleaning cycle because of enzyme denaturation which means that the enzymes in the solution would be ineffective both during the initial cleaning stage and even more so after water recycling and repeated use.

Sonix 4 suggests a decontamination process that includes a pre-soak of instruments immediately after use in an enzymatic solution, followed by a 10 minute ultrasonic cleaning cycle at approximately 60C/140F using an environmentally friendly neutral pH cleaning solution such as Sonix 4’s Eco4, and a quick final rinse.

Posted on September 25, 2015 by admin

On September 11, 2015 the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a health advisory to clinicians and medical facilities highlighting the importance of ensuring the proper cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization of reusable medical devices (http://emergency.cdc.gov/han/han00382.asp). This advisory was released in response to patients being informed that they could be at an increased risk of infection due to improper cleaning protocols caused by the failure to follow manufacturer’s detailed protocols.

Although significant attention has been given to the risk of infection with the use of complex medical equipment such as duodenoscopes, the risk of infections caused by the incomplete removal of agents such as bioburden or sterile crud, which is the first and most critical step in sterile processing, extends to all reusable medical devices. These lapses have led to patients being forced to undergo tests for hepatitis B and HIV, and have been associated with instruments used in hospitals, clinics, ambulatory surgical centers, and doctors’ offices.The advisory recommended that all of these institutions review their current cleaning processes to ensure that they are compliant with manufacturer’s recommendations, that staff are trained appropriately, and that staff are given sufficient time to performed the necessary cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization processes.

The main recommendation of the advisory is that all healthcare facilities should have their reprocessing procedures assessed immediately by a healthcare professional with expertise in device reprocessing. Specifically, it should assess that:
• Reprocessing is performed correctly
• Sufficient time is allowed to ensure that all cleaning steps (including those to remove bioburden and sterile crud) recommended by the device manufacturer can be performed
Furthermore, individuals who are responsible for cleaning and sterilizing reusable medical devices should receive adequate and regular training, and should also be required to demonstrate competency. Manufacturer’s instructions for operating cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization equipment should made readily available to both staff and any site inspectors.Cleaning should be performed promptly after equipment has been used, but before disinfection and sterilization. During the disinfection step attention should be paid to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Finally, the performance of the sterilizer should be monitored at regular intervals.

Posted on August 17, 2015 by admin

For years the industry standard to test ultrasonic cleaners is the “foil test;” wherein, a piece of aluminum foil is immersed into an ultrasonic bath for thirty seconds, removed, and the impression pattern analysed.  The downside to the foil test is that it is subjective, and without some education about what to analyze it’s difficult to determine good from bad results.  The foil test is a good test to measure the physical forces being exerted within an ultrasonic bath – with training.

The sonochemical test – in addition to the physical forces being exerted by acoustic cavitation there is also a chemical effect (sonochemical) occurring that causes the molecular bond cleavage of water molecules (sonolysis) that releases powerful oxidizing hydroxyl radicals that attack molecular bonds and cell membranes.  The shearing of the H2O molecules that releases the hydroxyl radicals can also produce hydrogen peroxide.  With a sonochemical test (SonoCheck) we can measure the cavitational intensity without subjective analysis – the results are fast, easy, and undisputable.  

In an alkaline solution, terephthalic acid reacts with hydroxyl radicals to produce a highly fluorescent mixture. The reaction provides a very sensitive method of estimating the hydroxyl radical production – the faster the fluorescent change occurs the more intense the cavitation, and the more intense the fluorescent color the more intense the hydroxyl radical production.  Our most common size machine (3-½ gallons) produces a bright fluorescent effect in 30 seconds – every Sonix 4 manufactured 3-½ gallon machine can be benchmarked using that standard.

The SonoCheck vial is a tremendous tool to help practices determine the efficacy of their ultrasonic cleaners.

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Cavitating bubbles produce cavitation noise. Within a spectrum of harmonics and subharmonics of the driving frequency the noise levels are associated with the level of cavitation intensity. In other words, the greater the cavitational intensity, the higher the noise levels; however, factors such as operating frequency and design balance play significant roles in controlling the noise levels. For example, our products have the most intense cavitation in the industry, yet the noise levels produced are among the quietest machines. While the majority of competitor units are at 40 kHz, our machines operate at 60 kHz which offers a more intense cavitation, and the higher frequency yields lower noise levels along with the combination of our one+one transducer and driving circuit design which allows us to balance the tuning of our systems more accurately reducing stray harmonics that cause additional noise.

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Beyond operating frequencies and engineering design the cleaning solution and the concentration of solution can impact noise levels.  Incompatible solutions will result in excessive noise levels, and too much of a solution dampens the noise level as it also dampens cavitation intensity.

 

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Soap solutions act as a surfactant speeding up the cleaning process by aiding in the removal of debris.  The way that this works on the molecular level is the creation of hydrophobic, or water fearing molecule pockets that attract substances other than water in the solution.  These hydrophobic pockets encapsulate debris and allow the waste material to be easily rinsed from the product that is being cleaned.  Many solutions use chemical surfactants to accomplish this task.  Although effective in removing debris, these solutions can cause environmental issues.  Sonix IV solutions are certified green and made with organic citrus.  The citrus oils work like chemicals do in most solutions to create hydrophobic molecule pockets to aid in debris removal.  

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Why enzymatic cleaners are inviable in ultrasonic cleaners.

A modern trend in sterile processing is to use enzymatic cleaners as cleaning agents in ultrasonic cleaners – although logically it makes sense to add enzymes to eat away at biodebris, scientifically it’s a waste of money.  The inactivation of enzymes results from the powerful physical and chemical reactions occurring during sonication (acoustic cavitation).  In addition to the inactivation of enzymes by the physical forces of acoustic cavitation there is also inactivation from heat that is generated during sonication.  
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Transmitting high frequency sound waves into a liquid medium (water) causes the water to vibrate (cavitate) – ultrasound waves in liquid induce acoustic streaming that cause millions of microscopic bubbles to form, grow, and implode.  The phenomenon of the formation, growth, oscillation and implosion of microbubbles using ultrasound is called “acoustic cavitation” and is the root cause of several chemical (sonochemical) and physical effects such as sonoluminescence, shock waves, micro-jets, turbulence, shear forces, etc.  Under the extreme pressures (60,000 psi) and temperatures (20,000 k) at maximum implosion chemical reactions and light emission occur.  

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In addition to the physical disruption from acoustic cavitation such as the micro-jets blasting debris off parts and rupturing bacteria cell walls there is also a chemical effect (sonochemical) occurring that causes the molecular bond cleavage of water molecules (sonolysis) that releases powerful oxidizing hydroxyl radicals that attack molecular bonds and cell membranes.  The shearing of the H2O molecules that releases the hydroxyl radicals can also produce hydrogen peroxide; however, the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide is probably not enough to have any real effect on disinfection.

So how do ultrasonic cleaners clean?  Acoustic cavitation does the work – the formation, growth, oscillation, and implosions of millions of microbubbles create violent shock waves and micro-jets of liquid that blast away debris.  Additionally, powerful oxidizing hydroxyl radicals are produced by the bond shearing of water molecules that attack the molecular bond of debris and bacteria.  Disinfection is also taking place by the combination of the physical forces that rupture bacteria cell walls and render them inviable and the free radicals that enter the cells and attack internal structures, or releasing vital structures from the cell which is degraded in the solution.

Ultrasonic cleaning is the most powerful, efficient, and sustainable technology for the most critical step in sterile processing.  Without the powerful physical disruption and hydroxyl radical production resulting from acoustic cavitation it’s possible that bacteria protecting bioburden layers could remain on surgical instruments leaving “sterile crud” after the sterilization process.  

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Posted on September 19, 2013 by admin

Debunking the Top Five Myths About Ultrasonic Cleaning

Are you wasting money in the sterilization center? If you’re adhering to less than efficient cleaning practices, you could be. Let’s investigate the top five myths around ultrasonic cleaning.

  1. Ultrasonic cleaners vibrate debris off of parts.

    This statement is false. The mechanism responsible for cleaning within an ultrasonic cleaner is cavitation. Cavitation occurs when conducting ultrasonic waves through a liquid medium to generate extreme pressures and temperatures that naturally breakdown cohesion and adhesion forces. As a result, debris is removed and microorganism membranes are destroyed, killing bacteria and other harmful protozoa.

  2. Ultrasonic cleaners are not an important piece of equipment in a dental or medical practice.

    This statement is false. Effective sterilization cannot occur without clean instruments. Yet, in the United States, patient infection due to improperly cleaned surgical instruments is rising.Ultrasonic cleaners deliver the world’s most powerful, efficient, and sustainable technology to support the first – and most critical – step in sterile processing: cleaning.

  3. Enzymatic cleaning solutions are best for ultrasonic cleaners.

    This statement is false. Cavitation, and the extreme pressures and temperatures that the bubble implosion yields, is responsible for breaking down cohesion and adhesion forces to remove stubborn biomedical debris, destroy cell structures, and produce a microorganism-free disinfection.

    These extreme pressures and temperatures denature enzymes, rendering them useless. Enzymatic solutions are valuable in pre-soak applications, not ultrasonic tanks. The ultrasonic cleaning solution’s purpose is to aid in the collection and removal of debris, serving only to assist in the actual removal of these cell structures and other biomedical debris.

  4. Ultrasonic cleaners are inefficient.

    This statement is false. Ultrasonic technology is one of the most efficient electrical energy transmutation technologies in existence. From standard electrical voltage, ultrasonics yield the mechanism responsible for the effects we notice from cavitation, which is a result of bubble implosion. As these bubbles collapse due to pressure differentials on either side of a surface within the liquid medium, a powerful water jet is formed.

    Science has yet to quantify the actual numbers associated with the bubble collapse. But published sources cite that pressures of 60,000 psi and temperatures twice that of the surface of the sun are obtainable at the point of bubble implosion. As a result of bubble collapse, a unique phenomenon referred to as sonoluminescence is observed. As a bubble collapses violently upon itself, gases contained within the bubble are subjected to extreme pressures and temperatures. A light, which has been described as a miniature star (nuclear fusion), is also visible.

  5. The longer an ultrasonic cleaner operates the better it will clean.

    This statement is false. It is recommended that smaller batches of instruments are cleaned with shorter cycle times not to exceed 10 minutes. Intense pressure and high velocities of the water jets are created through a process of violent bubble collapse or implosion. This creates stress on rigid material in the liquid medium including the stainless steel tank causing erosion. Operating with long cycle times, the cavitation erosion is amplified and the effects of damage are noticed in increasingly shorter timespans. There is, however, a nominal improvement in cleanliness.

Posted on April 16, 2013 by admin

There are currently about 7 billion people globally, and of those people, 2.5 billion do not have adequate sanitation services for their water supply. 80 percent of all illness in developing countries is due to inadequate sanitation and unsafe drinking water. The problem of clean water may seem like a crisis reserved for third world countries, but the problem hits closer to home than we may initially think. Matt Damon, award-winning American actor, has made it his celebrity cause to see that the 780 million people without access to water get it. Working with Water.org and their WaterCredit program he has been personally visiting developing countries in Africa (the heart of the water crisis) to see that wells are tapped for people who have not had direct access to water.


Global Water Conservation

Before help arrived, people without clean water average 200 million hours per day collecting water. This allows the average person in these developing countries to use an average of 2.6 gallons per day. In the U.S. the average person uses 100 gallons of water per day. Traditionally, North Americans wait until crisis is reached to actively pursue an answer to our troubles. Some places in the U.S., like Texas, have experienced extreme drought in that last few years. That impacts both the available water as well as the price for municipal water supply. Crisis may be closer than we think.

The price of a drum of water is more expensive than the price of a drum of oil. As water and other utilities like chemicals become more expensive, experts estimate that water utilities rates will continue to increase in the coming years. In the past few years water in major metropolitan areas were water use is high has doubled, and national averages are expected to triple in the next three years. Sonix4 provides ultrasonic device solutions to ease the pressure both on the environment and your wallet.

Sonix4 introduces a revolutionary line of water treatment products to its existing line of proven ultrasonic technology. These products are being used in many other countries, where current scientific research takes place, to do many amazing things to conserve water and avoid a water crisis. One example in the Netherlands is converting their waste and raw sewage back to drinking water using ultrasonics.

With hard water issues stretching across the U.S., and clean usable water becoming harder and harder to find, it is crucial to avoid a water crisis. Sonix4 is continuously working with partners to get products into the hands of people who can help the general population save money and reduce impacts to the environment by reusing water in a number of applications. For more information on our technology browse our website and our educational resources at www.sonixiv.com.

© Sonix 4 Ultrasonics Location: 7644 Southrail Road, Bldg 100 North Charleston, SC 29420
Phone: 843-554-0239, Fax: 843-554-4136