The history of UVC disinfection in fast motion
Up to 1945
Just by the end of the 19th Century, after discovery of the mercury vapour discharge, it was possible to produce artificial UVC radiation. The lack of reliability and capacity of these glass bulb lamps prevented the technology to develop until the Thirties of the 20th Century.
It was first when the American Westinghouse Company developed the cold cathode emitter tube to produce economic and reliable UVC radiation sources. This enabled a highly effective disinfection method without chemical substances or high temperatures.
The Fifties to the Seventies
The real decisive step in developing this form of disinfecting really began round about at the time after Word War II. The extensive researches of this time still apply today as a basic knowledge when dealing with this technology. In the beginning the processing of fresh water was less focussed than generally the improvement of the ambient air hygiene in hospitals and public buildings.
On the European market this disinfection method became popular especially in connection with the production and storage of sausages and fresh meat products. UVC radiation was also increasingly used to disinfect potable and drain water.
The Seventies to the Nineties
The increasing trust in antibiotics, new preservatives, cleaning agents and disinfection substances, temporarily reduced the interest in this prophylactic technology as from the mid of the Eighties.
In many areas, modern air conditioning and filter technology promised to be a comfortable problem solution for combating airborne microorganisms.
In the mid of the Nineties a certain disappointment set in: Germs that were resistant to antibiotics increased in numbers and it was examined that air-conditioners were often the source - not the solution - of contaminated air. Infections in the hospital, ‘sick building syndrome’ (SBS) or ‘building related illness’ have been the key terms in that context.
From the Nineties onwards
The mass use of antibiotics and the extensive application of chemical disinfection agents led to a number of new and unwanted problems. Multi-resistant germs and human intolerance have been the consequence.
Today's awareness of hygiene is also reinforced by the preventative guidelines and legislation, such as for example the HACCP concept (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) or the Regulations of the German Institute of Engineers: VDI 6022 (hygiene-conscious planning, execution, operation and maintenance of air conditioning systems). With the increasingly critical attitude towards chemical disinfection agents, UVC technology experienced a strong renaissance.
UVC systems today
In the Eighties, it was mainly faulty execution concepts and technical flaws which discredited UVC technology, but today increasingly powerful computer and simulation programs make for perfect prerequisites for the calculation of functional UV installations.
Today many suppliers of tap water worldwide trust the environmentally friendly and reliable UVC disinfection method. In the areas of industrial food processing and packaging industry, this additive-free, odour and taste neutral process has been widely accepted and is successfully used. In some areas it is already deemed to be unavoidable in order to comply with the hygiene guidelines. However, in the air conditioning technology and the health sector this technology still has great potential for development.