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  • LEDs ‘will Disinfect Your Building’
    May 21, 2018

    ULTRA-VIOLET LEDs are set to play a major role in disinfecting buildings as big-brand manufacturers announced moves into the technology.

    Current, powered by GE and Hubbell Lighting both unveiled LED-based continuous disinfection technology at the LightFair International trade show, significantly expanding the number of players in what has been a relatively narrow sector.

    Hubbell says it signed a licensing agreement with the University of Strathclyde for access to the Scottish school’s continuous disinfection technology. Current, powered by GE has also announced continuous disinfection technology based on emission in the ultraviolet range just below the visible spectrum, and said it developed the intellectual property in house.

    UV-C energy will kill most pathogens almost instantly, but that spectrum – ranging from 100–280 nm – will kill healthy cells as well and is dangerous to the human eye and other organs. Light at longer wavelengths takes much longer to kill bacteria but can be used with people present. Picture courtesy Soul Rider Photography 2016.

    The concept of continuous disinfection is a compelling one with pathogens lurking in spaces ranging from athletic locker rooms to food and beverage operations to healthcare facilities.

    UV-C energy will kill most pathogens almost instantly, but that spectrum – ranging from 100–280 nm – will kill healthy cells as well and is dangerous to the human eye and other organs. Light at longer wavelengths takes much longer to kill bacteria but can be used with people present.

    John DiNardi, general manager and vice president of the Hubbell Lighting Components Business, said the company would target applications such as locker rooms where bacterial growth is a dangerous problem in settings from youth to professional sports. Hubbell refers to the technology as High-Intensity Narrow-Spectrum (HINS) lighting.

    Having licensed the technology, the Hubbell Lighting Components team will develop the light engines and other components based on the IP, such as linear light engines.

    Initially the technology will come to market across the Hubbell Lighting brands in various luminaire form factors. There is also the possibility that Hubbell Lighting Components could eventually supply the enabling technology to other luminaire manufacturers.

    The Strathclyde technology relies on emission at the lower end of the human visual range in terms of wavelength. The IP includes not just the spectrum but also characteristics such as dosage time and magnitude of output needed to kill various pathogens.

    Of course, there is another source of IP for continuous disinfection in the human visual range. Vital Vio owns such technology. Just recently, the company announced another patent in the area. And the company has licensed a number of luminaire manufacturers to use the IP with Acuity Brands being the most prominent.

    UV-A LEDs

    Current, meanwhile, is the first company we have seen that plans to use UV energy for continuous disinfection. The company said the approach relies on UV-A emission. Generally, UV-A implies wavelengths ranging from 315–400 nm. The top of the UV-A range is just below the violet 405-nm area used in visible-light products. Current said its products will emit in the 300–380-nm range.

    Current appears focused on healthcare centric applications for the UV-A technology.

    The company said hospital readmissions due to healthcare-associated infections account for 28 per cent of all readmissions. And the company expects the continuous-disinfection technology to positively impact that trend. Current could apply the technology in a variety of form factors.