Healthcare

Industry ramps up production of UV-C lamps

a mercury light tube
Traditional UV-C mercury lamps have the wavelength of 254 nanometres, which breaks down the RNA of the coronavirus and makes it harmless.

THE LIGHTING industry is ramping up production of UV-C lamps across the world in an effort to benefit from the surge in demand driven by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The coronavirus crisis is leading to an unprecedented interest in the power of passive ultraviolet lighting to disinfect workplaces.

In particular, attention is centring on the use of traditional UV-C mercury lamps, which typically have wavelength of 254 nanometres, which breaks the DNA of micro-organisms (RNA in the case of the coronavirus) and makes them harmless. They also have the intensity to kill viruses fast.

Signify, the world’s largest lighting company, says it is working with its partners in many countries to see how it can accelerate the use of UV-C lamps in those facilities where it can have a positive impact. 

Osram, which has gained international approval for its UV-C lamp range, says 2,000 units of its Chinese-made UV-C lamp, the AirZing, are already in use in hospitals in Wuhan and Beijing.

Typically, the products can be equipped with intelligent sensors to prevent them illuminating when people are present.

The AirZing allows trained staff in hospitals and other public facilities to disinfect large areas rapidly. 

In China, Osram has supplied as many as 10,000 products to nurseries. 
Its factory in Kunshan has a capacity of 35,000 units per month, but management are exploring ways to increase this number.

‘We are working hard to increase the production volume of our UV‑C disinfection systems,’ Wilhelm Nehring, CEO of the digital business unit at Osram, told Lux.

‘They can make an important contribution to the fight against coronavirus. Protecting our employees is a top priority and we thank them for their commitment day after day despite the difficult conditions.’ 

Last week, Signify chief Eric Rondolat told Lux he envisions a booming market for so-called ‘upper-room disinfection’, in which air-borne viruses are killed by UV-C light from mercury lamps mounted safely above and invisible to occupants. 

Rondolat said this application ‘wasn’t doable’ with LED. ‘You’d have to use so many LEDs it would be impractical.’

We believe this is a fabulous potential moving forward,’ Rondolat told Lux

‘We’re cognisant that this technology can help the fight against Covid-19 so we’ll sell the light source to other lighting companies for use in their products’.

He expects the buoyant market to continue after the crisis has abated, as people will still want their spaces to be free of viruses. ‘The world will change its perspective on spaces where people gather’.