FASTECO2 • Functionalization and sterilisation of medical devices using supercritical CO2

FASTECO2 hopes to develop a new sterilisation method for polymer materials that is more environmentally friendly, gentler and cheaper.

The idea is to use CO2 in its supercritical form, which has a number of advantages: it is easily available, inexpensive, non-toxic and odourless. It is also a clean technology that does not generate any polluting residues or effluents.

The project’s second aim is to develop a functionalization technique using supercritical CO2, to graft active substances onto medical devices while simultaneously sterilising them. These grafts could be used to make drug-eluting medical devices. For example, they could improve the patient experience post-surgery by adding analgesics to the surface of the medical device.


Sterilisation eliminates pathogens that might otherwise contaminate the patient. These pathogens could originate either from staff members or the medical environment at the time of the operation.

Yet the majority of medical implants with complex shapes are difficult to clean, disinfect and sterilise. Implant manufacturers currently use three main sterilisation processes:

  • ethylene oxide sterilisation
  • radiation sterilisation (beta or gamma)
  • steam sterilisation

In the case of bioresorbable medical devices, manufacturers are keen to find gentler methods that are more environmentally friendly than conventional processes. Although they are widely used, the above methods are in fact controversial.

Ethylene oxide is mutagenic and carcinogenic, while beta and gamma radiation affect the chemical make-up of polymers, causing them to break down more quickly. As for steam, although it does not release any solvents into the atmosphere, the temperatures are incompatible with polymers, which are widely present in medical devices

Our role

Support setting up the project, submitting the project for funding and monitoring the project.

Key info

Project type: PSPC Région (strategic projects to drive competitiveness funded by the French state)

Start date: February 2020

Duration: four years

Total cost: €2,941,927

Funding: €1,677,997

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