Gases for the manufacture of disinfectant UV lamps

The gentle germ killer

Anyone who has ever had sunburn knows the unpleasant effect of UV light: it can destroy living cells in a short space of time, leaving behind painfully burnt skin. However, the destructive force of ultraviolet radiation can also kill microbes. For instance, it is used to disinfect the water in swimming pools or the air in operating theatres. At LightTech in Hungary, where the special antibacterial UVC lamps are manufactured, gases are an indispensable part of the production process.

UV light with a wavelength below 280 nanometres literally tears the gene’s chain molecules apart. If a germ or a virus is exposed to such UV radiation, it will, at the very least, no longer be able to reproduce. To disinfect indoor air, it is circulated within the radiation range of a UVC lamp – preferably in the air conditioning system itself. After a while, all the air will thus have been exposed to the short-wave light. Examples of the use of UVC light for disinfection include the food industry, restaurant kitchens and hospitals. UV disinfection of water also has a pleasant side effect: the UV light turns oxygen (O2) into ozone (O3), which not only attacks the germs but also breaks down impurities such as sun creams and bodily fluids without the use of chemicals.

Disinfectant UV light is usually produced with low-pressure mercury vapour lamps. LightTech is one of the leading suppliers worldwide. Neon and argon, and less often gas mixtures with xenon and krypton, are used as the filling gas for the lamps. In order to avoid oxidation of the metal parts, nitrogen is used as a protective gas. LightTech uses Messer’s oxyfuel technology for glass melting. This requires 40 per cent less natural gas than the technology used previously. Moreover, carbon dioxide emissions are also lower. LightTech gets all the gases it uses from Messer in Hungary.

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