Originally created 01/06/02

Clean bills for health?



An engineer thinks he can run a big money-laundering ring from his Largo, Fla., company. Literally.

Frank Masyada says he has designed a contraption that washes and dries paper bills, yielding sterilized cash.

"It's a whole different world now," Masyada said, referring to concerns about anthrax and biological warfare. He is hoping that banks and the federal government will give serious thought to his invention intended to destroy E. coli, streptococcus and other illness-causing bacteria. He maintains it can kill anthrax spores as well.

Masyada says he'll manufacture one machine, about the size of an 8-foot file cabinet, in March. The proposed machines would cost between $80,000 and $200,000, depending on the size and features. Some may have counterfeit-money detecting devices.

The money is treated with a pressurized solution, Masyada said, much like the sanitization process that surgical instruments go through.

The bills are placed between two steel mesh belts, which move the money into a pressurized chamber. After the bills are treated, they are blasted with hot air to dry them.

Masyada, who is president of Thermal Technology Services, developed a process that strengthens metals by subjecting them to cycles of extreme cold and extreme heat. He applied it to golf clubs, claiming it would give golfers more yards and straighter shots.

He started working on his money-sanitizing idea in 1994 and thought ultraviolet light would kill the germs. Masyada found that didn't work. When he later discovered the pressurized technique, he found that some other countries' currencies didn't hold up under the pressure. If the money is not tough enough to begin with, it can tear. Some bills just aren't meant to be cleaned.