Is UV LED the Future of Disinfection Technology?

By WPG AmericasJanuary 3, 2019

The use of ultraviolet (UV) sterilization is quickly growing as a safe, non-toxic, and cost-effective alternative to chemical disinfection. Urban authorities and municipalities around the world are increasingly adopting UV technology for wastewater treatment. So why is the world turning to UV sterilization?

Making the Switch to UV Sterilization

First of all, unlike chlorine, the most widely used chemical disinfectant (that must be transported and handled with extreme caution), UV sterilization comes with no such risk. It produces no by-products or residues, which are harmful to the environment. Moreover, UV light disinfection adds nothing to the water and, therefore, it doesn’t alter its chemical composition.

Chemical treatments using chlorine or ozone typically involve a longer retention time required to achieve disinfection. It could be 30 minutes or more before chemical disinfection starts doing its job.   UV light provides effective inactivation of germs through a physical process in a matter of few seconds. For example, LG Innotek’s 100 mW UV-C LED can wipe out 99.9% of Salmonella, a bacteria which causes food poisoning, in just 3.4 seconds.

Other factors driving the popularity of UV sterilization over chemical disinfection include operational hazards and costs associated with ongoing maintenance of chlorination systems as well as with training staff and emergency preparedness. 

While UV technology is certainly safer and more economical compared to chemical disinfection, not all UV technologies are the same.

The Benefits of UV LED

Before the advent of UV LED, the mercury vapor lamps have been the most popular UV disinfection product. However, The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) has set the goal for mercury to be phased out of production by the year 2020 to minimize mercury-related hazards on a global scale — a factor that’s causing governments around the world to restrict and even put a ban on mercury products. With the rising concerns and regulations over mercury-based products, there’s a stronger motivation for authorities and manufacturers of sterilization equipment to look for replacements.

Secondly, UV LEDs offer a considerably longer lifetime — compare 50,000 life hours of an LED to 10,000 hours of traditional UV lamps. Also, the small form factor of LEDs make them a natural fit for small and compact devices such as a portable skincare product sterilizers.

Furthermore, recent improvements in UV LED flux density have made UV LED lights a competitive choice compared to conventional UV lamps. Due to these improvements in LED technology, UV LEDs are being increasingly used in applications such as air and surface sterilization equipment, water purification systems, pesticide detection systems, consumer devices, to name a few.

These are some of the prime reasons why UV LEDs are poised to become the UV technology of choice globally. According to “Yole Développement,” a market research firm, the global UV LED market is expected to grow more than sevenfold from 2016’s 151.9 million USD to 1.1178 billion USD in 2021.

To know more about the advantages of using UV LED technology for a wide range of sterilization applications and the LED modules, brought to the market by LG Innotek for these applications, download our new white paper