UVC radiation also proves to be advantageous in combating the pandemic, as light disinfection is quick and efficient. Completely dispensing with chemical cleaning agents is also an environmentally friendly and effective decontamination solution for many applications. Yet, at the same time it is also hazardous for people and material.
But what exactly is UVC radiation, what makes it so hazardous and what does this all have to do with LAPP?
What is UVC?
UVC radiation is the term for particularly high-energy ultraviolet radiation (UV) in the 100 to 280 nm (nanometres) wavelength range. Just like UVB radiation with a wavelength range of 280 to 315 nm and UVA radiation in the 315 to 400 nm range, it is generated by the sun and is also the sun's shortest UV wavelength radiation.
While the sun’s natural UVA and UVB rays penetrate to the earth’s surface and are primarily responsible for sunburn and premature skin ageing, UVC rays are almost completely absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere. Humans are therefore exposed to very little to no UVC rays in nature. Fortunately, because as the wavelength decreases, the negative impact of UV radiation on human health increases.
Is UVC harmful to health?
The shorter the wavelength, the stronger the impact of UV radiation on human health.
« UV-C radiation, as the sun’s shortest UV wavelength radiation, is therefore very hazardous to our health. »
If people or animals are exposed to this radiation, it damages the eyes, skin and even DNA. UVC rays are also classified as highly carcinogenic.
But that is not all: a wide range of materials and their durability also suffer greatly from UVC radiation.
So why do we generate UVC radiation artificially if it damages us, and the earth's atmosphere protects us so effectively against it?
What are the advantages of UVC and where is it used?
As often in life, every upside has a downside. The same is true of UVC radiation. On the one hand, it is harmful to human and animal health, yet it can make a very effective contribution to protecting it.
For example, UVC lamps have been used for a long time for water treatment or air purification, e.g. in laboratories or in the medical and pharmaceutical sectors.
For sterilising water, air and surfaces, these lamps protect our health. The specific 254 nm wavelength of the UVC radiation has proven to be particularly effective here.
Coronavirus can also be destroyed by UVC radiation, which is why it is very effective for disinfecting in combating the Covid-19 pandemic. Conveyor belts, handrails on escalators and even entire train carriages, aircraft cabins, warehouses, operating theatres and classrooms can be decontaminated within seconds without the use of harmful chemicals. Some of them are already in use today, while others are still in the starting blocks.
But what only sounds positive at first has its drawbacks.
How does UVC affect materials?
Every one of us knows the faded colours of magazines left in the sun or laundry dried in the sun too often. Plastic garden furniture, once snow-white, that has become yellowed, porous and dull after just a short while is another common source of annoyance. This is “only” due to the influence of UVA and UVB rays, which are longer wavelengths and therefore less aggressive than UVC rays.
« UVC radiation has significantly detrimental to service life and material durability of certain materials. »
It destroys the macromolecules of plastics, for example, and therefore in some cases also the outer sheath materials and insulation of cables or the plastics used in cable glands and connectors.
In the long term, this can lead to material damage to the installed products or components and ultimately to failures in the machines and systems affected.
Then there are mobile products or hand-held devices whose housing and control elements suffer greatly from the influence of UVC radiation.
Consider the decontamination of an office, for example, where plastic frames on monitors, projectors, televisions and other products and their supply cables are exposed to the accelerated ageing process due to UVC radiation. This leads to premature brittleness of the plastics and premature failure due to cracks or breaks in the material.
It goes without saying that fast solutions are called for, especially during a pandemic. However, as the operating company or manufacturer of the individual products, you also have to ensure that plants, buildings or laboratory facilities are not damaged by high-energy UVC radiation.
If moving components are also used, e.g. cables in the drag chain or in mobile or portable devices, the time taken before complete failure is considerably reduced further.
How can LAPP help you here?
Once again we are one step ahead. Just like in the 1990s with the introduction of our ÖLFLEX® NATUR and today's ÖLFLEX® ROBUST products. Back then, the focus was on avoiding premature failures in cables, cable glands and connectors due to the influence of the newly introduced bio-lubricating, cooling and cutting oils, based on rapeseed for example.
As an innovative supplier of integrated solutions and branded products in cable and connection technology, our LAPP experts recognised the situation early on and acted accordingly.
This is because there have so far been no official studies about the impact of UVC radiation on the various materials, no standardised tests or even international testing standards.
So LAPP has initiated its own testing procedure for cables that can be used to test for UVC resistance.
|The following criteria were examined for the cables:||The following changes were identified in the test samples:|
|• Mechanical strength||• Brittleness and loss of elasticity|
|• Visual change||• Significant surface change|
|• Material emission||• Escape of additives|
|• Colour change||• Pronounced colour fading or darkening|
|• Odour formation||• Sometimes strong odour release|
Our test procedure led to the following results:
Non-UVC-resistant or only slightly UVC-resistant plastics
- Specific thermoelastic elastomers
- Certain electron beam cross-linked plastics as well as
- Special halogen-free materials.
On the other hand, all of our products with the ROBUST sheath material achieved particularly good results for use under the influence of UVC radiation. We can recommend these to you without reservations.
UV-C resistant plastics
As a customer of UVC-tested products, thanks to the early action of our LAPP experts, you benefit in the following areas:
- Power and control cables
- Data cables
|Power and control cables||ÖLFLEX® ROBUST FD||For use in drag chains.|
|"||ÖLFLEX® ROBUST FD C||"|
|"||ÖLFLEX® ROBUST 200||For flexible use.|
|"||ÖLFLEX® ROBUST 210||"|
|"||ÖLFLEX® ROBUST 215 C||"|
|Low-frequency data cables||UNITRONIC® ROBUST||For flexible use in the low-frequency range.|
|"||UNITRONIC® ROBUST C||"|
|"||UNITRONIC® ROBUST C (TP)||"|
|Fieldbus data cables||UNITRONIC® BUS PB ROBUST||For flexible use in the PROFIBUS-DP network.|
|"||UNITRONIC® ROBUST S/A FD||For sensor/actuator cabling.|
|Ethernet data cables||ETHERLINE® ROBUST||For flexible use in Ethernet and special PROFINET networks.|
|"||ETHERLINE® ROBUST FR||For flexible use in PROFINET networks and particularly flame-retardant.|
Why should I choose UV-C resistant products from LAPP?
- You are prepared for the long-term operation of your products, especially in UVC areas.
- The lower probability of LAPP components failing reduces your machine downtimes.
- You save time and money with longer maintenance intervals.
- You can plan better as a result of the long product service life.
- With ROBUST, you automatically meet the highest hygiene requirements and, if necessary, can also resort to a steam jet and chemical cleaners.
But that is not all. Here too, we at LAPP once again demonstrate our innovative strength and play a pioneering role. This means that we have already thought about the advantage we can give you, which is why we have begun to develop new products specifically for use in UVC sterilisation.