Previously, we explored the emerging developments around UV legislation and standardisation and what they are likely to mean for UV businesses. In this follow-up article, we’ll take a closer look at how the regulatory landscape should evolve to create a conducive environment for further innovation.
Today, UV-C LED disinfection has several use cases, notably for air and surface cleaning, as well as water treatment. However, although the use of UV for disinfection dates back over a century, the regulatory environment around the technology stays immature. Fragmentation persists significantly across geography, industry and utility.
Looking ahead to 2023, there is a need for standards to simplify UV-C legislation to foster further innovation around UV-C LED air disinfection and other germicidal applications. A lack of standards and regulations for these applications affects the adoption and market trust in innovative technologies. In this article, we delve into the outlook for 2023 and beyond by exploring the potential implications and advancements in this field
Taking a forward-looking approach, there are discussions around changing standardisation rules for medium-pressure UV lamps, as well as greater standardisation planned for municipal LED applications. Translating these discussions into legislation will take time, but it is key for businesses to proactively stay informed about the current trajectory at the earliest opportunity.
At the ICULTA 2023 in Berlin, new upcoming GUV (germicidal ultraviolet) Guidelines and standards for air disinfection were presented as ‘under development’:
ASHREA GPC 37 – Guidelines for the application of upper-air UV-C devices to control the transmission of airborne pathogens
ASHREA 185.3 – Method of testing in-room devices and systems for microorganisms or inactivation in a chamber.
NALMCO – Creating a newly standardized curriculum and certification protocols for GUV devices maintenance staff, installation technicians and system designers in the field.
For UV-C water disinfection, there are upcoming test standards for the use of UV LEDs in public drinking water disinfection. Official drafts are planned to be released at end of 2023:
DIN 19294-1 (published)/ DIN 19294-2 (planned end 2023)
Testing of Composition, Function and Disinfection Effectiveness for (LP) Low Pressure UV devices and (MP) Medium Pressure UV devices.
DIN 19294-3 (published) / DIN 19294-4 (planned end 2023)
Reference radiometers for LP and MP UV devices
DIN 19294 – 5 (DRAFT planned end 2023) Devices for the disinfection of water using devices equipped with UV LEDs – requirements and testing – Research project DINoLED project
The goal of the DINoLED project is the development of a DIN draft standard for UV LED-based water disinfection devices in public drinking water treatment (point-of-entry and point-of-use devices are not considered in the standard). The DINoLED project is funded by the German Federal ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy and it is the result of a cooperation between several UV companies (Xylem, OSRAM) and educational institutes such as Technologiezetrum Wasser.
In terms of UV LED products, a clear distinction between regulation and validation should be kept front of mind. Regulation sets parameters that UV technologies must adhere to, while validation provides companies with the means to decide whether they are working within those parameters.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, air disinfection has received a major push forward. Innovative technologies like LED and UV are now more common and better known. In the US, threshold limit values (TLVs) supply recommendations around biological exposure to UV radiation. All radiation below 250 nm has different TLV standards, with exposure limits being much higher than they were previously. A study on far-UVC at 222nm, published in Nature Scientific Reports (2022), showed that it efficiently inactivates airborne pathogens. This research also showed that 222nm devices are safe for human skin and eyes.
Image: Study presented by David Brenner at ICULTA conference (Columbia University) showing the effects of FAR UVC to skin
Currently, most of the responsibility around the design, production and operational quality is with the manufacturer of UV-C LED disinfection solutions. The current lack of clarity around regulations and guidelines means that many manufacturers are simply taken on their word. Compliance is promoted through marketing claims, which may or may not be verifiable.
UV validation brings confidence, making it crucial for manufacturers to test and validate their systems. While clear standards exist for water disinfection, challenges arise when it comes to new LED technology such as UV-C LED. This is primarily due to variations in validation requirements across applications and the power variability of current LEDs. These variations depend on the LED manufacturer, product, drive current and temperature. Adding to the complexity is the fact that current LED datasheets are rarely representatives of the ‘real-world’ performance. Thus, to obtain reliable data, it becomes necessary to measure system performance in operation.
The opportunities of UV-C LED systems and their applications are being explored by the industry. There are many challenges to overcome, such as the power efficiency, costs and reliability. At Nedap, our LED driver technology can support testing and validation of UV-C LED solutions, supplying data insights and full control of the power supply. Our smart driver technology is designed to suit current regulations, with an eye on future developments. Get in touch with us to find out how our UV technology can help you navigate the current regulatory landscape, with a design that prioritises both validation and standardisation.