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How Does UVC Technology Work?

How Does UVC Technology Work?

1)      What is UV-C light?

  • Ultraviolet-C (UV-C) radiation has wavelengths of 100nm - 280nm and is in the spectrum of the sun’s radiation that we are rarely exposed to, as the ozone layer in the stratosphere prevents UV-C rays from reaching the surface of the earth.

2)      Is UV-C light effective/proven against eliminating viruses/bacteria?

  • UV-C light is the type of UV light that’s most effective at killing germs. It can be used to disinfect surfaces, air, and liquids.
  • UV-C light kills germs like viruses and bacteria through damaging molecules like nucleic acids and proteins. This makes the germ incapable of performing the processes that it needs to survive.

3)      Where else is UV-C light used?

  • Other than the recent use of UV-C inside an aircraft cabin by Honeywell, there is an established market for UV disinfection devices. Hospitals have been using UV-C light for years to disinfect patient rooms, operating rooms, and other areas where bacterial infection can spread. 
  • UV is also being used or tested for disinfecting buses and trains. Businesses are also considering the technology for disinfecting warehouses and retail spaces.
  • It’s also possible to use UV to disinfect air. Indoor spaces like schools, restaurants and shops that have some air flow can install UV-C lamps overhead and aimed at the ceiling to disinfect the air as it circulates. This is already happening in some hospitals and prisons.

4)      How does Honeywell’s UV Treatment System work?

  • The Honeywell UV Treatment System is equipped with UV-C lamps and is wheeled through an aircraft cabin at a speed controlled by the operator with input from a speedometer to control level of dose
  • UV lights are mounted on two wings that extend over the seats of the aircraft and expose both seats beneath the wings and the overhead compartment above them. Additional smaller UV lights are mounted on the wingtips for better exposure of the aircraft walls, on the body of the cart to expose the sides of the aisle, and near the crown of the cart to expose the overhead compartment doors.
  • The Honeywell UV Treatment System employs 253.7nm UV-C light and exposes materials in the cabin of an aircraft to UV-C light during use at doses which depend on the location and proximity to the material being treated and the time of treatment.
  • All UV-C effects on materials are dose-dependent.
  • Those measurements have been taken using the Honeywell UV Treatment System at positions corresponding to many locations in a typical narrow body aircraft.

5)      How effective is Honeywell’s UV Treatment System?

  • The Honeywell UV Treatment System has been found in laboratory studies to achieve greater than 99.9% reduction of tested pathogens.
  • In on-aircraft testing the Honeywell UV Treatment System was found to achieve greater than 99.9% reduction of the tested pathogen on tested tray tables, cabin seating arm rests and lavatory seat, armrest, and wash basin.
  • The second-generation Honeywell UV Treatment System comes equipped with 14 UV-C 253.7nm wavelength low pressure mercury lamps (eight 95W and six 35W). When properly applied, UV-C irradiation has been found to reduce pathogens - including tested bacteria and viruses - on multiple surfaces and in multiple environments.
  • Multiple laboratory studies on the efficacy of 253.7nm UV-C light on SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, have been performed. Boston University has reported achieving a 99% reduction with a dose of 5 mJ/cm2 in its testing. It is still too soon to know definitively whether UV light will be effective against COVID-19 outside the laboratory environment, but testing is on-going, and we have reason for optimism.
  • The Honeywell UV Treatment System has been tested and shown capable of delivering doses ranging from 9.6 – 39.0 mJ/cm2 at a speed of 10 rows/minute when applied to aircraft surfaces including seating surfaces, tray tables, windows, overhead bins, and lavatories.
  • The Honeywell UV Treatment System can traverse a single aisle aircraft cabin in less than 10 minutes.

6)      Will the Honeywell UV Treatment System harm the interior of the aircraft?

  • Aircraft materials like seat fabrics, seat belts, tray tables, polycarbonate window covers, and other materials have been tested at various UV-C doses.  Even after exposure to doses far beyond any reasonable use, there was no effect on the flame retardancy or strength.  With some lightly colored materials there was yellowing after doses corresponding to many years of daily use.

7)      Is the Honeywell UV Treatment System safe to use?

  • UV-C light can damage eyes and skin, so it’s important to observe the safety precautions provided in the manual.  These include the proper safety apparel for the operators, and the safe way to operate the system.
  • Treatment with UV-C light does not leave a residue in the treated surfaces, so contact with them immediately after treatment is safe.
  • The UV-C light does not generate ozone, a harmful gas.

8)      Is there a Honeywell UV Treatment System version available for business aviation?

  • Yes, the new UV Treatment Wand is our most compact UV solution yet!
  • Weighing about 15 pounds, the wand and battery is stored in a carrying case that can be worn or wheeled by the operator. It uses the same 254nm UVC as the cart-based system, so it doesn’t require the time or proximity as similar excimer wands. Best of all, it can be used by operators everywhere – from business aviation to buildings to rental vehicles.

For more information on the Honeywell UV Treatment System, click here.

Stephen Yates
Ph.D., Fellow, Honeywell Aerospace Advanced Technology

Dr. Stephen Yates is a Fellow in Honeywell Aerospace Advanced Technology. He has 36 years of experience in developing new products for air purification and other applications and holds 60 US patents.


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