STERILIZATION: Conquering Sterilization Challenges

Specialty handling may be in order for sensitive products.






Daphne Allen


Electron beam sterilization technology can irradiate temperature- and time-sensitive products, such as tissues, in rapid fashion.

A number of emerging biological products must be held at frozen or refrigerated temperatures. Sterilizing them, or at least sterilizing their secondary packaging in order to offer a sterile presentation, seems somewhat daunting.

Some companies are finding electron beam processing to be a viable solution. “Product in cold storage can be irradiated in a matter of minutes and put right back into storage,” reports Ray Calhoun, president of BeamOne (San Diego, CA, Lima, OH, and Denver, CO). “We are finding electron beam technology of particular interest for providers of tissues and other temperature- and time-sensitive products. Our turnaround time is fast, and we can accommodate small runs, which are often appropriate for refrigerated products or those with other sensitivities.”

He also reports that the ability to present products to the electron beam using specialty handling eases the minds of delicate-product manufacturers. “We are getting more requests for fixtures around products to accommodate special product orientation,” he says. Making frames out of uniformly dense Ethafoam enables Beam One to deliver consistent and tightly controlled doses to these items.

BeamOne is already expanding its business to Costa Rica and is opening a facility in the new Coyol Free Zone and Business Park near San José. “We have the option to double our capacity,” says Calhoun. Having chosen Coyal to support existing medical device companies and other healthcare product manufacturers that are planning to locate to the Zone, Beam­One is the only contract sterilizer there, Calhoun says. “These companies are manufacturing here and distributing products primarily to the United States, Europe, and Japan,” he says, “benefiting from free-trade-zone status.”

Calhoun says that in some respects, electron beam processing could be considered a “green” sterilization method, which the Costa Rican government applauds. “We are an on-off system—we just use electricity, not radioactive isotopes or potentially explosive gas.”


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