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Water Disinfection

In recent decades, ultraviolet (UV) disinfection has become an appealing technology in the global water treatment industry due to declines in UV equipment costs and increased concerns about chemical disinfection. The UV-C LED operates in the so-called C range of the UV spectrum, with a wavelength from 100 to 280 nanometers.  In this range, UV light has germicidal properties, making it ideal for water disinfection.

LEDs, which are semiconductor-based light sources, have been commercially available since the 1960s, but it wasn’t until 2012 that UV-C LEDs became widely available for water disinfection.  UV-C LEDs have a much different material structure than the more familiar visible light LEDs and are much harder to fabricate in mass quantities.

Compared to mercury vapor lamps, UV-C LEDs offer a number of advantages, including lower power requirements, which make them safer to use.  Another key benefit is that UV-C LEDs can be made in extremely small sizes, enabling the manufacture of portable disinfection systems – possibly compact enough to fit inside a residential water pipe or faucet, which would render these fixtures virtually self-disinfecting.

Additionally, UV-C LEDs have instant on/off capabilities while mercury vapor lamps can require up to ten minutes to warm up to the necessary level of disinfection intensity.  In order to avoid these long warm-up periods, mercury vapor lamp-based disinfection systems are often left on continuously, which leads to more frequent lamp replacement.  UV-C LEDs also do not utilize mercury, an environmentally hazardous substance with high disposal costs.