The establishment of the Philippines' first privately-operated e-beam irradiation facility to meet the country’s irradiation needs has officially commenced.
The groundbreaking ceremony in Brgy. Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal on 13 May 2022 was jointly held by the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) and the Irradiation Solutions, Inc (ISI), a 100% subsidiary of A Brown Company, Inc. The privately-operated facility aims to help address the irradiation needs of different clients from both the food and non-food sectors.
The e-beam technology is used in more than 60 countries and is considered the most economical alternative among available commercial sterilization methods. E-beam sterilization is also supported by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) particularly of ISO 11137 which is the international standard governing the sterilization of health-care products using radiation.
DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña emphasized that the DOST-PNRI has successfully fulfilled two things in terms of additional service facilities as part of the challenge he gave to DOST-PNRI way back in 2017; First was the setting up of a Nuclear Medicine Facility which had its groundbreaking ceremony last February 2022, and second was the setting up of a private commercial E-beam Facility for additional capacity in irradiating devices and products.
“I am really happy that this is happening. This technology will immensely help not only the medical field, but also those in the agriculture sector,” said DOST Secretary de la Peña.
What is e-beam?
The electron beam (e-beam) irradiation process uses high energy electrons as its radiation source. The electrons, which are produced by normal electrical current, are accelerated to near the speed of light by means of an accelerator. The electrons are focused to a scan in a sweeping motion, creating a curtain of electrons. The product is then conveyed through the scan curtain at a tightly controlled and measured speed and bombarded with high-energy electrons. The process itself takes place behind a radiation shield, typically a large concrete structure, which prevents radiation from leaving the cell. Scanned at a tightly controlled and measured speed, the product for irradiation is bombarded with high-energy electrons which inactivates viable microorganisms.
The radiation facility will utilize a 10 MeV e-beam linear accelerator which has different applications such as radiation sterilization of single use medical devices such as surgical gloves, surgical masks, surgical staplers, syringes, dressings, cotton, suture for sterilizations; and of packaging materials such as empty eye drop bottles and empty aluminum tubes. The facility can also be used for the reduction of microbial load of different products such as herbs, spices, raw material for cosmetics, animal feeds, frozen seafood; eliminating pathogens in food; and for the quarantine treatment of fruits and vegetables.
Meanwhile, DOST-PNRI Director Carlo A. Arcilla revealed that the establishment of the facility was one of his commitments to DOST. “When I was hired at PNRI five years ago, one of the things that was told to me was to try to have a private irradiation facility set up. I am very proud and glad that it has come true,” he said.
Dr. Arcilla added that the American Food and Drug Administration has recently approved the dosimetry for Philippine mangoes. This means that the country can start exporting its mangoes to US which require irradiation, and this facility will be able to help address the looming irradiation needs for mango.
According to ISI president Paul Francis B. Juat, there are already 13 active e-beam irradiation facilities in Vietnam that are already making profits, as he expressed his hope for the technology’s commercial potential in the Philippines.
The e-beam irradiation technology can help make the Philippines be at par with other neighboring countries and will increase the competitiveness of the Philippine industries and will enable our local producers to address food safety requirements and gain wider access to international markets.