New spin-out company, Plasma Fresh, aims to disrupt the food and drink industry with cold plasma

A new University of Liverpool spin-out company, Plasma Fresh, has developed cutting-edge technology that harnesses the unique physicochemical properties of cold air plasma to improve current sanitisation practices along the food processing line.

Dr Aaron Dickenson (Head of Operations), from University of Liverpool’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Electronics, along with Professor James Walsh (CTO), formerly University of Liverpool but now at the University of York’s Plasma Institute, are addressing a gap in the market. They are developing a solution that offers cost-effective, safer, and more reliable decontamination of industrial food processing surfaces, all without relying on harsh chemicals, unlike the conventional methods currently employed.

Food producers go to extraordinary lengths to minimise microbial contamination of food, yet these efforts are not fully effective and often require harsh chemicals or energy intensive processes. The provision of safe food at an affordable price to an ever-growing population is perhaps one of the greatest problems facing humanity in the 21st century.

Plasma Fresh’s novel technology harnesses the unique physicochemical properties of cold air plasma to eliminate contamination from food and the food processing environment. Plasma generation requires only air and electricity, it can be created directly at the point of need, and crucially, it creates an abundance of short-lived chemical species that inactivate microorganisms and degrade chemical contaminates. The exploitation of these unique characteristics within a food production environment will provide a disruptive advance across the sector.

Proof-of-concept data has been gathered demonstrating rapid reduction of pathogens from surfaces and food products, and the ability of plasma to extend produce shelf life by several days. The team are now developing innovative engineering solutions to enable plasma to be applied to various products (vegetables, meats, & powders) alongside food contact surfaces.

The Plasma Fresh team completed Innovate UK’s Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe) Discover, Explore and Exploit programme (£45k) in 2022/2023. As a result, they secured £295k ICURe follow-on funding which was matched funded by the University of Liverpool’s Enterprise Investment Fund (£250k).

 In 2024, Plasma Fresh joined the Biotechnology Business Incubation Centre (Bio BIC), a new business support programme designed to help early stage, high potential biotechnology companies succeed in commercial markets, located within STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, at Sci-Tech Daresbury, and funded by UK Research and Innovation STFC and BBSRC research councils.

Dr Aaron Dickenson said: “Cold plasma technology has the potential to revolutionise and enhance the processes currently adopted by the food manufacturing industry and beyond, paving the way for safer, more sustainable practices”.

Emma Nolan, Head of University of Liverpool Enterprise said: “The University is known for its world-class research in engineering and associated disciplines and Plasma Fresh is an excellent example of how leading academic research can be translated into commercial ventures, contributing to economic growth and creating impact.”


To find out more about Plasma Fresh, visit the website here or email

Plasma Fresh is supported by the University’s Enterprise Team who protect and exploit the University’s intellectual property, generated through its research, helping to maximise the economic, commercial and societal impact of that research. Read more here.

 For University of Liverpool staff:

Find out more about applying for the University’s EIF and commercialising your research here.