COVID-19: Understanding how medium-voltage electron beam can be an alternative sterilization method


In these unprecedented times, COVID-19 is affecting populations worldwide in several aspects and continuously challenging health care professionals and the medical device industry. The need for specific materials for testing or sanitizing purposes has skyrocketed, while manufacturing and sterilization capacity has not necessarily increased at the same pace.

Why is medium-voltage technology an alternative?

Medium-voltage electron beam accelerators (5 MeV), an FDA cleared technology, may enable the sterilization of products in a reduced time-period, presently with considerable capacity throughout North America, which remains “unexplored” by the industry.

Unlike other sterilization modalities, medium-voltage electron beam offers incredible throughput. The reference sterilizing dose (25 kGy) can be delivered in minutes or seconds, as opposed to hours or days using other terminal sterilization modalities such as gamma or ethylene oxide, which leads to extremely quick processing. Medium-voltage electron beam is a proven and reliable alternative to meet the time demands of the market.

So, what kind of COVID-19 related materials could be easily converted or qualified using the e-beam sterilization modality?

Examples include components used for the test kits, whether via PCR or the antibody test, which include vials, caps, swabs, microplates, vaccine kits, wipes, and personal protective equipment such as gloves, masks, and other related materials. Particularly medium to low-density products are in the sweet spot.

What steps is E-BEAM Services taking to ensure sterilization is not a bottleneck in COVID-19 related products?

E-BEAM Services Inc. is currently taking steps towards increasing and expanding its processing capacity beyond the 5 beams already under operation across North America, in anticipation of the growing demand.

E-BEAM Services Inc. is under a superior management directive for expedited scheduling related to qualifying and sterilizing COVID-19 related products. E-BEAM Services offers flexible processing capabilities in a response to the excessive lead times for gamma sterilization and the growing demand for sterilization observed in the marketplace.

How do I qualify my product for sterilization using medium-voltage E-beam?

    1. Set up a call with a Tech Service representative to discuss getting started.
    2. Once a processing date is set, samples are then sent to us at E-BEAM Services to be exposed at two or three different dose levels to confirm compatibility.
    3. Dose maps and validations are performed to determine the processing parameters and validate the process according to the ISO 11137 standard.
    4. A verification run is performed to verify the sub-lethal dose and prove that the process is suitable to reach the desired sterility assurance level.
    5. Product is ready for production.

Want to learn more? Here at E-BEAM Services, our team of experts and highly trained professionals are available to assist medical device industries, labs, nuclear power plants, and other facilities in meeting their testing and production needs. Contact us to discuss your product needs.




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Gamma vs E-beam vs X-Ray: A Comparison

e-beam vs gamma vs x-ray

Ionizing radiation is the second-largest method of choice when it comes to the industrial sterilization market, accounting for almost 45%. While gamma and e-beam are the traditional favorites, newer to the game is x-ray.

What are the similarities?

All three technologies are capable of providing sterility and are all governed by the same ISO 11137 standard.

The same dosimetry system may be used, and in practical terms, 25 kGy of gamma is the same as 25 kGy delivered by an electron beam accelerator or by an x-ray machine.

So, what are the differences between the three sterilization modalities?

Gamma radiation is comprised of photons generated by the decay of a radioactive nucleus (cobalt-60 for instance), and therefore the dose rate is governed by the decay. Photons have no mass and may penetrate deeper into matter, but no changes can be made to affect its energy spectrum. As a result, medium- to high-density products are ideal for gamma processing.

E-beam radiation refers to machine-generated high-energy electrons. As electrons have mass, the penetration is limited by the energy. This makes the use of electron beam technology very useful for low- to medium density products and more favorable for box processing as opposed to whole pallets.

Also, given the nature of the technology, e-beam is a great fit for sensitive products as the dose can be delivered significantly faster than gamma or x-ray – we’re talking seconds or minutes rather than hours. The detrimental effects are then also reduced as the lifetime for the reactions to take place are several orders of magnitude smaller.

Industrial x-rays are generated via the use of an electron beam accelerator coupled with a metal target. When the electrons hit the metal target, x-rays are created. X-rays are also comprised of photons (but with different energies than gamma), so x-ray is also a potentially good fit for medium- to high- density products.

The dose rate is also higher than gamma, as they are also machine-powered, but limited or slower compared to e-beam. For instance, to deliver the standard sterilization dose of 25 kGy, it would take about 2.5 hours or more of processing using gamma radiation, as opposed to 45 mins to an hour using x-rays and seconds to minutes using e-beam technology.

How do I determine if my product is a good fit for e-beam sterilization?

Here at E-BEAM Services, our team of experts and highly trained professionals are available to assist nuclear plants, labs, medical device manufacturers, and others in meeting their testing and production needs. Contact us to set up a free consultation call with Tech Services!

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How does E-BEAM ensure my products will be sterilized and ready for consumer use QUICKLY?

Medical device sterilization

With an increasing demand for sterilized products on the market, one question we get often is: how does E-BEAM ensure my products will be sterilized and ready for consumer use quickly? Well, there are a number of factors that go into that.
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A time for thanks

Thank you


This year has tested us all in ways we never imagined. 2020 has, in essence, turned our own personal worlds — and the world — upside down (and then spun them around, flipped them over again, and shaken them a bit, just for good measure).
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Crash Course Recap: Lichtenberg Figures


Lichtenberg figures are named after German physicist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, who originally discovered them. They’ve also been called Lichtenberg trees or “trapped lightning.”

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E-beam Crosslinking vs Chemical Crosslinking

E-beam crosslinking


Crosslinked foams have improved physical properties over non-crosslinked foams and often go into more demanding applications, particularly where tolerances are more important, such as: Read More »

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Center for Electron Beam Excellence at E-BEAM Services Fuels Customer Innovation in Product Development

Harnessing the Power of Electrons to Differentiate Products in the Market

E-BEAM Center for Electron Beam Excellence

Lebanon, OH – E-BEAM Services Inc., the largest contract electron beam service provider in the United States, is fostering innovation with its Center for Electron Beam Excellence designed to use the power of electrons to enable clients to discover new or improved products. Building on existing research and development capabilities, customers will benefit from faster access to new ideas in a workshop environment designed by specialists for specialists. Read More »

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What is e-beam technology?

frequently asked Questions about e-beam technology


Electron beam processing is a technology with a broad range of commercial applications. It provides users with an effective and efficient means to bring about useful changes in the properties and performance of polymers and other materials. The technology is also widely used for the sterilization of medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics. Read More »

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Crash Course Recap: Does e-beam make my products radioactive?


One question we get a lot is: Does e-beam make my products radioactive?

The short answer:


The (slightly) longer answer:  Read More »

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How high-dose testing can be used to simulate radiation exposure for the nuclear industry

simulate radiation exposure

Nuclear reactors and radioactive materials play an important part in our society, such as the use of radioisotopes for medical treatments and the production of carbon-free energy. But using radiation in a safe and beneficial manner requires a deep understanding of the materials involved and their potential reactions to radiation.

Shielding materials for medical isotopes and the materials used in nuclear reactors must withstand the continuous exposure of radiation – without performance failures. Read More »

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