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4th Edition of

Chemistry World Conference

June 17-19, 2024 | Paris, France

Chemistry 2021

Victor John Law

Speaker at Chemistry World Conference 2021 - Victor John Law
University College Dublin, Ireland
Title : The application of microwave generated steam ovens for the decontamination of respirators and face masks


During the two influenza pandemic’s of this century (caused by H1N1 and SARS-Cov-2), experimental microwave generated steam (MGS), has shown potential, for decontamination of respirators and surgical masks. Recent review articles of the decontamination of single-use face respirators / masks have been primarily performed within the health sector, with particular focus on the disinfection efficiency of the process. However, as with all datasets collected from different research sources, experimental conditions are not reported in a consistent manner. These reports generally provide an overview of MGS microwave conditions, however they did provide sufficient detail in standard microwave engineering terminology from which the thermodynamic of process can be obtained. In particular how the parameters: power density (W L-1) and available energy budget (J s-1 x J = J) is reflected in the processed respirator / mask outcome. The understanding of these parameters and how they influence the decontamination outcome is necessary for further development of the MGS process and enable it to fulfill some of Green chemistry goals (reduce the amount of harmful chemical products in the environment, and limit the number of respirators and masks required to be manufactured. The work reviews the treatment of N95-type respirators, surgical and medical masks, and in this context looks at microwave oven-related injuries and fires. In addition, the thermodynamics of converting liquid-phase water into steam in terms of available microwave power (W) calculated power density (W/ft3, W L-1) and process energy budget verses the decontamination outcome. Using this knowledge, meaningful recommendations can be made on the suitability of individual microwave oven for the treatment, in addition what respirators should be used, or not be used in MGS decontamination process. Finally, if an oven cannot be found, then recommendation for how to go about designing a microwave oven for MGS decontamination is given.

Audience take-away:

  • The problems with microwave generated steam (MGS) decontamination of respirators when using a microwave oven, Green chemistry: Using water and a microwave oven enable respirators reuse up 3 times. Thereby not using harmful chemicals and reducing waste.
  • Microwave oven-related scald and burns. The thermodynamics of microwave heating and how to keep safe at work and at home.
  • A microwave engineering approach to MGS  availed power density (W/ ft3, W/L ) and energy budget (J s-1 divided by irradiation time = J), or how to choose  a suitable microwave oven for MGS.
  • What is required to design and build a microwave oven suitable for MGS of respirator decontamination?


Dr Law received his B.Scs. degree from The Open University in 1985 while at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, U.K. He obtained his Ph.D. degree from the University of Ulster, Belfast, Northern Ireland in 2005. He has been a Senior Research Fellow with University College London, London, U.K and Dublin City University, Dublin Ireland. Since 2012, he has held the post of Senior Research Engineer at University College Dublin, Ireland. Dr. Law has Published over 120 refereed articles (H-index = 19 (mean = 17) for the top 100 publications and holds one patent). His research interests include material processing and microwave  and plasma drive circuits.