A KIDLINGTON firm believes its new device has the potential to become a billion-pound product in food manufacturing.
Ozo Innovations’ elocube invention uses technology to transform salt and water into a powerful cleaner and disinfectant.
The solution, created by zapping the salt water with low-voltage electricity, kills bacteria which causes listeria, salmonella, ecoli and the ‘vomiting virus’ norovirus.
Chief executive Rowan Gardner says the device, the size of a small fridge, could slash waste during food production, dramatically reduce the need for antibiotics and cut disease in developing countries.
The biochemist, who studied at Oxford University, said: "We are making huge impacts by being able to achieve really clean and hygienic disinfected surfaces using cold water."
The elocube, which makes 22 gallons of electrolysed water, is aimed at food factories and processing plants, commercial kitchens, hotels and cruise ships.
A bigger version is also being produced.
Although the chemistry has been known about since the beginning of the 19th century, Ozo Innovations’ patented technology means it can be put into large-scale production.
Ms Gardner explained: "It’s about how to make it cost-effective enough to move out of the laboratory and into the factory.
"Advanced materials and progress on efficient electrodes has made this technology advance possible now and we have been able to identify it and work with partners to develop it."
Ozo Innovations has investors from around the world, including the west coast of the US and the UK.
It has also received a number of grants from Innovate UK, which helps inventors to commercialise their technology.
The firm, which has also just been awarded a grant from science and technology foundation Newton Fund to develop its technology in India, moved to bigger premises in September.
Its base at Chancery Gate Business centre in Kidlington was previously used by Drayson Racing Technologies.
Ms Gardner said: "The power infrastructure for developing electric racing cars proved to be similar with Ozo’s requirements to use power, salt and water to deliver robust disinfection capability at food factory scale."
The product is being tested at four food factories around the UK and the firm, which employs 16, plans to take on five more staff as it gears up for large-scale production.
Ms Gardner said: "Innovation happens when people want to solve problems.
"We wanted to tackle major issues, such as food-borne illness, the need for the food industry to reduce its use of antibiotics and food waste.
"There are lots of reasons for this technology, so our objective was to make effective hygiene simpler to achieve for the food industry.
"We are talking about a global opportunity – that’s hundreds of billions of pounds worldwide."