UV-C Stabilization: An Overview for Plastics Producers and End Users
Across the globe, individuals, families, and industries are searching for ways to stay safe from significant health threats, including bacteria with increased resistance to antibiotics and viruses that are continually mutating. From the healthcare field to popular modes of transportation, reliable disinfection is essential. In this informational overview, learn more about UV-C radiation, how it can improve disinfection practices and how Solvay prevents UV-C degradation in polymers.
What is UV-C and How Does UV-C Disinfection Work?
UV-C refers to short-wavelength (200 - 280 nm) ultraviolet light, which is normally filtered by the Earth’s atmosphere and is much stronger than UV-A and UV-B light present in sunlight. UV-C radiation can inactivate microorganisms and has been scientifically proven to be effective against coronaviruses. The high-energy UV-C light is absorbed by the genetic material of the microorganisms on surfaces, resulting in structural damage so that they cannot function or reproduce, and eventually, they become harmless. While the most typically used UV-C wavelengths are in the range of 250 nm to 270 nm, the entire 200-280 nm UV-C bandwidth has been generally recognized for its germicidal effects. UV-C has been proven in many publications and by the IUVA, the International Ultraviolet Association, of which Solvay is a member, to be a very effective germicidal treatment.
UV-C Disinfection: An Effective Weapon in the Fight Against COVID-19
COVID-19 highlighted the importance of surface and air disinfection and the benefits of UV-C light in combating pathogens.
The level of UV-C exposure required for effective treatment varies from pathogen to pathogen. Published scientific research and studies have proven the effectiveness of using UV-C light to deactivate various strains of coronavirus, including the latest SARS-CoV-2 strain that causes COVID-19.
What Role Do Solvay Stabilizers Play in UV-C Disinfection?
UV-C light contains much higher energy than standard UV-A and UV-B light and is not commonly present in sunlight as it is filtered out by the Earth’s atmosphere. Due to its strength, UV-C light should always be used according to precise safety specifications. The high-energy level of UV-C irradiation will cause materials to degrade much faster than is the case with UV-A or UV-B exposure. In some cases, the first signs of material degradation can be seen in just a matter of days.
The reason for this is simple. Plastic articles and surfaces today are not formulated with long-term UV-C exposure in mind and start to discolor and crack when exposed to UV-C irradiation. Current UV stabilizer systems are designed to stabilize polymers against UV-A and UV-B irradiation, not UV-C. Research indicates polymers have different degradation behaviors after UV-C exposure; in many cases, they are less durable. Specific knowledge and expertise in UV-C stabilization are required in order to sufficiently protect a polymer system from degradation. Traditional UV-A & B stabilizers have been shown to be ineffective in stabilizing high-energy UV-C irradiation.
Recognizing the importance of UV-C stabilization to the plastics industry and public health environments, Solvay, a UV stabilization technology leader, introduced the first UV-C stabilization solution for the industry. Solvay’s proprietary UV-C stabilization technology enables UV-C light to be used as an antimicrobial disinfectant to guarantee a healthy environment without negatively affecting the long-term durability of polymers. With Solvay’s UV-C stabilization technology, UV-C disinfection can serve as an environmentally friendly process that helps eliminate the need for single-use plastic waste. By reducing the need for chemical wipes and plastic dispenser bottles containing alcohol gels, UV-C disinfection can improve sustainability while helping to address today’s public health challenges.
Our Technical Center in the United States is equipped with the most commonly used UV-C light technologies on the market, enabling us to perform exposure studies on different types of polymers based on your specific application needs.
Current Industry Uses
Sterilization of operating rooms, patient’s rooms, and equipment prior to surgery.
Photo: Dimer - UVHammerⓇ - Mobile surface disinfection used for sterilizing hospital rooms - Courtesy of Dimer, all rights reserved.
Photo: Honeywell - Honeywell UV Treatment System - Mobile system used to treat surfaces on aircraft - Courtesy of Honeywell, all rights reserved.
Photo: Heraeus - SoluvaⓇ Zone H - Mobile surface disinfection equipment to disinfect rental car interiors - Courtesy of Heraeus, all rights reserved.
Gyms, Theaters, Public Spaces
Photo: Signify - PSV’s dressing room fitted with UV-C disinfection upper air luminaires - Courtesy of Signify, all rights reserved.
Photo: Edeka supermarket equipped with UV-C disinfection upper air luminaires, Hamburg, Germany - Courtesy of Signify, all rights reserved.
Photo: Heraeus – Soluva® Air V solution for efficient air purification during travel in public transportation – Courtesy of Heraeus, all rights reserved.