Cleaner bottles in a zap
Before bottles can be filled with noncarbonated sugary liquid at bottling facilities, they must be sterilized, using either chemicals or heat. Advanced Electron Beams, in Wilmington, Massachusetts, hopes to make the process easier and more eco-friendly with its new compact electron-beam emitter. The emitter, which has a 1-inch-wide nozzle designed to fit inside a standard-size beverage bottle, shoots out a spray of electrons that breaks the chemical bonds of germs and bacteria inside the container. Using electron beams for sterilization isn't new, but AEB's emitter is much smaller than conventional models, which allows it to be integrated into assembly lines and replaced like a light bulb. AEB plans to start selling the emitter to beverage companies this year for about $50,000 per unit.

Unlike conventional electron-beam emitters, AEB's device is hermetically sealed, so it does not require a pump to maintain the vacuum necessary to generate electrons.

Beam me up
AEB also makes larger devices for sterilizing dairy packaging and medical equipment. It plans to market the smaller emitter shown here to cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies.