UVC Technology, What Is It?

Ultraviolet light is electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths shorter than visible light. Ultraviolet light (UV) can be broken down into various ranges. The short range UV (UVC) is commonly known as the “germicidal UV.” For over 100 years, the short-wave UV radiation in the “C” (Ranging from 200 to 280 nanometers) band has been used.

UVC Technology Graph for Ultraviolet C
Looking at the different sections of light.

How UVC Works

Ever since the late 1800s, a germicidal lamp using UVC technology has been used to kill various types of microorganisms that generally cause indoor air quality problems, such as bacteria, mold, yeast, and viruses.

There are certain UV wavelengths bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms are mutagenic. At a wavelength of 2,537 Angstroms (254nm), the UV will break the molecular bonds within the micro-organismal DNC, rendering them harmless or prohibiting growth and reproduction through the production of thymine dimers into their DNA. This process is similar to the effect the longer wavelengths (UVB) have on humans that cause effects such as sunburn or sun glare. The microorganisms have less protection from the UV, making it impossible to survive in prolonged exposure.

UVGI Systems

UVGI systems use germicidal UV exposure on environments such as water tanks sealed rooms, and forced air systems to kill bacteria. Germicidal lamps are used to emit germicidal UV electromagnetic radiation to use the correct wavelength exposure for irradiating the environment. Forced air or water flow through the environment helps ensure exposure to the germicidal UV wavelengths.

Finsen Lamps

Niels Ryberg Finsen was the first to use UV rays for treating medical disease. In 1903 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine. Finsen also invented the Finsen curative lamp, which was used through the 1905s.

Marseille, France used UVC technology to disinfect the municipal water supply in 1908.

Westinghouse Electric Company, R&D engineers, and scientists worked together to develop the first commercial UV lamps. They were primarily used in hospitals.

Even though the first UV lamps were very simple, when compared with modern technologies, they were still rather effective. The initial use of ultraviolet lamps was sold with water filters to use U.S. Department of Agriculture for the purpose of disinfecting drinking water sources used by the Arizona agricultural workers.

Broad Market Acceptance

After WWII, UVC became popular for sterilizing the air in hospitals, kitchens, bakeries, meat storage, and processing plants, breweries, dairies, and almost anywhere microbiological contamination is a concern. It is typically used by directing a UVC beam across the ceiling of the room.

In the 1950s, UVC became important in air handling equipment. Allowing the UVC to be a key component in controlling tuberculosis.

Moving Away From UVC

In the 1960s, concern grew about the microbes lessens with the introduction and increase of new drugs and sterilizing cleaners. As mechanical ventilation systems became more popular, UVC popularity drops due to its lessened effectiveness in cooler air settings.

Technological Improvements

UVGI became revisited by companies and organizations during the 1970s and 1980s due to the growing concern over chemical use. As improvements were made to UVC bulbs, their popularity began to increase again. During the early 1990s, UVGI began to be used in significant water treatment processing systems for municipal systems and swimming pool treatments.

The introduction of UVC and HVAC systems was explored in 1996. This allowed companies to produce high-output ultraviolet germicidal devices, thus improving efficiency and effectiveness.

Rethinking the Mechanics of UVGI

Before the arrival of the 850 GreenZapr, the treatment method was to pass the medium over the UVC source. However, upon solving the portable power dilemma the GreenZapr now allows for mobile sterilization. The miniZapr allows for mobile sterilization in a small, lightweight package.

Specialized UVC Bulbs, Light Modules, and Controls

GreenZapr uses bulbs designed specifically with high-intensity mercury-vapor lamps with a protective Teflon coating that will encase the glass during a breakage.

Every light module on the GreenZapr uses a reflector made from spectrally polished aluminum, yielding a UVC reflectance of 73%. The two combined together allow for a significantly larger direct energy.

The GreenZapr uses a number of important safety, one of which is a motion shut-off and light-bed lift shut-off.

The Central Control Module allows for optimum voltage by monitoring and measuring the power of the lights.

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Niels Ryberg Finsen – Facts. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2019. Wed. 22 May 2019. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/medicine/1903/finsen/facts/>

Møller, Kirsten Iversen, et al. “How Finsen’s Light Cured Lupus Vulgaris.” Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine, vol. 21, no. 3, 2005, pp. 118–24, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15888127, 10.1111/j.1600-0781.2005.00159.x. Accessed 22 May 2019.

Fencl, Forrest. “UV-C Light Benefits in HVAC Applications.” Achrnews.Com, ACHR News, 6 Jan. 2014, www.achrnews.com/articles/125256-uv-c-light-benefits-in-hvac-applications. Accessed 22 May 2019.

“UV Light Cuts Spread Of Tuberculosis.” ScienceDaily, 2009, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090316201505.htm. Accessed 22 May 2019.