UV LEDs: Making Water Drinkable

Jim Greig, Global Sales and Marketing Manager Electronic Materials, LORD Corporation-photo

Jim Greig, Global Sales and Marketing Manager Electronic Materials, LORD Corporation

by Jim Greig, Global Sales and Marketing Manager Electronic Materials, LORD Corporation

What is the one commodity in the world that we cannot live without? It’s not gasoline or raw materials or sugar or anything else that is traded on the commodities market. It’s water!

Up to 60 percent of the human adult body is made of water. Every day humans must consume a certain amount of water to survive; animals and livestock need water, too.

Most of us take water for granted. When I turn on the faucet, I expect clean, cold (or hot) water to flow – for drinking, washing or cooking. But this is not the case for many parts of the world where access to drinkable water and sanitation is constrained. The figures are startling – 660 million people worldwide lack access to safe water; 2.4 billion people worldwide lack access to a toilet. When humans lack access to clean water and proper sanitation, it affects their health, their livelihood, and their ability to function as part of the global community.

So how do we maintain a water supply that is clean enough to drink and clean enough for the human race to survive? If the world does not have enough drinkable water – we’re “toast.” (Or think of it this way – what if you didn’t have a clean source of water to make coffee to go with your morning toast?)

Even in areas with good sanitation – we are still facing polluted water supplies from chemical and oil spills, some of which are accidents and others of which are purposeful dumping. And recently, Flint, Michigan has been in the news due its water crisis that developed when government officials switched water supplies for residents, and inadvertently introduced lead and iron into the system.

In drought-stricken areas of the world, water is appreciated and not taken for granted. Water planning, and the reliability of sanitation services, is a worldwide necessity. We must all consciously use and conserve water. For example, Australia, as the driest inhabited continent, is very keen on using its limited water resources wisely.

The traditional method for sterilizing water has been the use of a mercury lamp. You flash the mercury lamp on the water, and it kills the bacteria in the water. But the problem with mercury lamps is that they are prone to breakage, and if you get a mercury bulb in the water, the mercury contamination becomes a worse problem than the bacteria that was in the water.

So how do we provide drinkable water?

There is a movement to using Deep UV LED Technology for purifying water. The electromagnetic spectrum of deep UV light is created from an LED chip. When used in water purification and filtration, UV ultraviolet light is an effective method for reducing harmful bacteria, chemicals and microbes.

The UV light actually sterilizes the water; it doesn’t kill the bacteria in the water, but keeps the bacteria from reproducing. This prevents intestinal problems when the water is swallowed.

Huge investments are being made to develop new sanitation systems. As part of their Water, Sanitation & Hygiene program, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has initiated a “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge,” to bring sustainable sanitation solutions to the billions of people worldwide who do not have access to safe, affordable sanitation. One of the developments involves using solar panels to create energy for purifying water with deep UV technology. The toilet water becomes drinkable.

Imagine having water-carrying containers with a UV light inside the bottle. You could fill the container with “contaminated” water, switch on the light, and the water would be purified and made drinkable.

There are limited resources in the world for drinkable water – and these sources are

dwindling. As the population increases, the need for water increases, not just for human consumption, but for agricultural and animal use, too.  We could face some serious problems in the future as we continue to consume our limited water supplies.

Deep UV LED technology can help in providing drinkable water and sanitation services for all our needs. None of us could survive without a clean water supply.

What are your thoughts? Do you even think about your water supply when you are filling your glass at the water faucet? How can we work together to preserve our water supply?