What’s the first thing you think of when you hear or see the word ultraviolet? Do images of black-light posters from the ‘60s flash through your head? Do you wince at the distant memory of a bad sunburn? Perhaps you recall a scene from a 2006 dystopian science fiction action film. Ultraviolent light is ubiquitous. You may have even noticed signs of the purple light in places you weren’t expecting, such as the filtered water dispenser in your workplace.
UV light can destroy 99.99% of harmful microorganisms, making ultraviolet water treatment one of the most effective methods for disinfecting bacteria from water. Isn’t that incredible!? A mere beam of light can render harmful impurities in your water innocuous. The Quench Water Experts can’t help but get excited when talking about UV water treatment, and hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll understand why.
What is UV Light?
As kids, we’re taught to protect ourselves from UV rays by taking cover under big umbrellas or slathering on sunscreen. Yet, when it comes to UV water treatment, feel free to leave your sunscreen at home. The type of UV light used to deactivate pathogens in water, UVC (or UV-C), is virtually harmless when exposed to humans for a short period of time.
The UV range of electromagnetic radiation extends from 10 nm (nanometers) to 400 nm. The spectrum is separated into four parts: UVA (315 nm to 400 nm), UVB (280 nm to 315 nm), UVC (200 nm to 280 nm), and UV Vacuum (100 nm to 200 nm).
UVA, UVB, and UVC are the three types of ultraviolet light that radiate from the sun, but only UVA and some UVB can get through Earth’s ozone layer. While UVA and UVB rays differ in how they affect the skin, they both do harm. Unprotected exposure to UVA and UVB can lead to skin cancer.
UVC, on the other hand, is less threatening to humans. Quench filtered water dispensers use UVC technology. The absorption length of UVC in humans is so short, almost no radiation can penetrate our living skin cells. In addition, the UV water treatment process happens within the confines of the filtered water dispensers, which means the risk of exposure to UV light when dealing with the outside of a water tank is extremely low.
How is UVC Light Used to Sanitize Water?
To kill microorganisms, UVC rays strike the cell, which penetrates the outer cell membrane, passes through the cell body, and destroys the nucleic acid, disrupting its DNA and preventing microorganisms from reproducing. The degree to which ultraviolet radiation can deactivate harmful contaminants in water is directly related to the intensity of the light combined with exposure time.
Quench uses LED UVC in our machines to deactivate or kill microorganisms, without adding any chemicals, like chlorine, to the filtered water. Independent testing has concluded that UV technology can eliminate 99.9999% of bacteria, 99.999% of viruses, and 99.9% of parasites, including cryptosporidium and giardia.
Similar to LED lightbulbs, LED UV lamps have a longer effective life than traditional UV lamps, leading to less service issues and less waste. Plus, traditional UV can produce a substantial amount of heat, which can be transferred to the water while LED UV can be engineered to not transfer heat, ensuring your cold water is always cold.
Furthermore, traditional UV lamps contain mercury while LED UV lamps do not. UV lamps that contain mercury are less efficient because they also emit harmful UVA and UVB rays which can degrade materials and impart taste if not properly designed. LED UVC light is very focused and has an extremely narrow range of 270 – 280 nm, which means there is little bleed into other light ranges. This specific range is ideal for maximum bacteria kill but will not degrade other materials like plastic.
That being said, it’s best to partner UV water treatment with other kinds of filtration methods. UV light is only capable of killing microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, molds, algae, yeast, and oocysts like cryptosporidium and giardia. The LED UVC will not have any impact on chlorine, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, and other chemical contaminants. That’s why a strong filtration system is a key partner to UV sanitization. Combining UV sanitization of water with other kinds of filtration systems, like advanced carbon filtration or reverse osmosis, is the best way to effectively treat your office water supplies.
In-Tank Versus Recirculation
There are two ways that UV sanitization works in filtered water dispensers: in-tank and recirculating. In the former, a UV lamp is located inside the water storage tank (after the water has been drawn from your local water line in a bottleless system) and sanitizes the surfaces of the tank as well as the water around it. In-tank UV lamps help maintain the freshness and taste of the filtered water and maintain the cleanliness of the reservoir.
In the recirculating system, the water itself, rather than the tank, is sanitized. A pump within the tank facilitates the water flow and each time the H20 molecules pass the UV lamp they are sanitized. This is a good method for very large storage tanks – like the Quench 810. Quench has bottleless water cooler systems that employ both methods, and a certified Quench Water Expert can help you determine which model best fits your organization’s needs.
Quench’s UV Sanitization Keeps Your Office Water Clean
Quench offers a series of filtered water dispensers that use UV water treatment systems. The Quench 960/965 is included in that lineup. The Quench 960/965 is the industry’s first-ever high capacity ice and water dispenser with hot water. Plus, it’s drainless, which can be hard to come by in an ice machine. As the ice melts down within the internal bin, the water drips to a reservoir in which it is treated with UV sanitization. Then, the clean, freshly treated water is reused in the ice making process. Efficient, right!?
In a conversation about UV water treatment, we would be remiss if we failed to mention our Q Series bottleless water coolers. The Q7 and Q5 filtered water dispensers combine UV water treatment with a proprietary 5-filter setup, producing quenchWATER+. We create quenchWATER+ using state-of-the-art filtration technology to remove contaminants and bad tastes while adding minerals, electrolytes, and alkalinity to create amazing tasting water. The added LED Ultraviolet light within these machines creates an extra layer of security, ensuring your employees are drinking the healthiest water possible. In addition, we have added touchless dispensing options to this series of bottle-free coolers.
Now, knowing how UV sanitization of water works and all the benefits associated with it, we hope you get why Quench Water Experts love talking about ultraviolet technology so much. The conversation doesn’t have to end here. Want to learn more about our UV water treatment? Give us a call at 888-877-0571 and we’ll offer our expertise. You can also take our quiz to see which filtered water dispenser is perfect for you.