What Is Ultraviolet (UV) Water Treatment and How Does it Work? 

August 19, 2019 - Nathan Olszak
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UV light is used in many commercial and industrial water filtration applications where the feedwater, or raw water, is subject to contamination by microorganisms. UV light can penetrate the cell walls of microorganisms, disrupting the cells so they’re prevented from replicating. As a result, the microorganisms can’t cause human infection or create damaging situations for manufactured products and/or processing equipment.

Note UV water filtration should not be used as your only source of filtration, as it does not remove heavy metals or filter the microorganisms from the water. Continue reading to learn more about commercial UV water treatment systems.

Table of Contents

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How Do UV Water Treatment Systems Work?

Incorporating UV water treatment systems into your company’s water purification system can help kill microorganisms in your water supply and make it safe for ingesting or clean for industrial use. Similar to a UV light for room disinfection, an ultraviolet water system will expose microorganisms like viruses and bacteria to a strong germicidal UV wavelength.

This UV light strikes and impacts the microorganisms, preventing them from further reproducing and being unable to infect people when they consume the water supply. This system is one of the best ways to disinfect the bacteria and viruses in your water supply. It’s a safe and effective way to purify your water without impacting the color or taste.

The only element that UV light treatment contributes to your water supply is energy through wavelengths — you won’t be adding chemicals or any other substance to your water supply. While the UV light does a great job of disinfecting your water, it will not remove impacted microorganisms or other particles in the water. Referencing a UV light sterilization time chart can help you understand how long it takes for UV light to disinfect water.

What Contaminants Will UV Systems Remove From Water?

The ultraviolet wavelengths from the UV water treatment system will target and impact the microorganisms in the water, but they will not remove them. A UV water system does not include a filter to remove large particles, debris and any other floating substances in the water.

Because UV water systems solely disinfect the water, it’s beneficial to add a filtration system to remove dirt, debris and large particles. This is especially helpful for companies that work in manufacturing, lumber or similar industries.

If you want to remove larger particles and debris from your water, consider including the following filtration systems alongside a UV light treatment system:

What Does a UV System Consist of?

Most standard UV systems have at least two pre-filters and a UV light inside of what’s called a bulb sleeve. The pre-filters will remove debris, as UV water treatment is less effective when these solids are present. The UV bulb sleeve is located in a tube, and the water disperses through the tube and around the sleeve. These are often located after the point of entry.

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Benefits of UV Disinfection Water Treatment

When you incorporate a UV water treatment system into your company’s water supply, you’re using one of the most effective methods for disinfecting water, further improving the quality of water at your facility. The system will eradicate bacteria, viruses and pathogens that are harmful to humans if ingested. Some pathogens that UV light can impact include Giardia and Cryptosporidium, which cause diarrheal diseases.

Installing an ultraviolet water treatment system provides numerous benefits for your company’s water supply, including:

  • UV water systems require low maintenance and operating costs.
  • The UV disinfection system adds no chemicals or by-products into the water supply.
  • UV water treatment systems provide a lower carbon footprint than comparable methods.
  • UV treatment eliminates processing time with instant treatment,
  • An ultraviolet system won’t impact the temperature, pH or other water properties.
  • This system offers a simple and safe disinfection method.
  • UV sterilization is an energy-efficient treatment option.
  • UV disinfection treatment systems will impact all of the water you use in your facility.
  • This is a reliable disinfection option, working all day and night to keep your water safe for consumption.

Challenges to Consider With Ultraviolet Water Treatment Systems

While companies can experience numerous benefits from installing a UV water treatment system in their facility, it’s important to consider the challenges that others have experienced with industrial UV water treatment systems.

These obstacles include:

  • Lack of filtration: UV water treatment systems don’t include a filtration system. If you have salts, sawdust, heavy metals, facility debris or other particles you need to remove, UV light systems will not do so. Therefore, companies will need to add a filtration system to remove larger particles from their water supply.
  • Doesn’t work in heavily polluted water: Ultraviolet water treatment systems work effectively when they are treating clear water supplies. If your facility has a heavily polluted water supply with numerous debris particles, the UV light will have trouble impacting bacteria and viruses.
  • Don’t work without power: Ultraviolet water systems require electricity to operate effectively. If your facility loses power or electricity is not available for an extended amount of time, the UV treatment system will not operate.
  • Don’t improve water taste: These water treatment systems do not improve the taste of your facility’s water. If you want to enhance the taste of your water supply, you’ll need to look into additional water treatment options.
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What Kind of UV Light Does My System Need?

An ultraviolet sterilization system needs to provide an intensity or “fluence” strong enough to inactivate the harmful organisms found in raw water. The fluence is a combination of the strength of the light, the distance the light travels through the water and the speed at which the water travels past the light. The intensity you need is 40mJ/cm² (milli-Joules per square centimeter) or 40,000 µWsec/cm² (micro-watt seconds per square centimeter).

In order to ensure that disinfection is taking place effectively and efficiently, it is important to regulate the water type and flow to match the light intensity and specifications provided by the manufacturer/provider. When you choose Complete Water Solutions for assistance with the installation and/or maintenance of your UV water treatment system, all of the technical specifications will be taken care of! We will work with you and provide documentation so you know what levels your system will need to be operating at for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

We also offer a protective coating to keep shards of glass out of your water system in the event that the sleeve or bulb shatters (see video below)!

UV System Applications

The design and effectiveness of ultraviolet treatment systems make them appealing to various industries and applications. There are numerous industries that can benefit from using ultraviolet light, including:

  • Food and beverage: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has guidelines on the quality of water that food and beverage manufacturers must use in their products. Using a UV water treatment system in a food or beverage facility can help ensure that the water that’s added to food and beverage products is bacteria-free and safe for consumption.
  • Restaurant: Using high-quality water is crucial for any restaurant. Using ultraviolet light water treatment in a restaurant can provide clean, bacteria-free water in all areas of the restaurant kitchen.
  • Swimming pools: Ultraviolet disinfection systems are beneficial for keeping pool water clean and controlling the growth of algae. While pools traditionally use chlorine to keep the water clean, chemical reactions may occur to swimmers in the pool. UV light treatment for swimming pools can be a safer and cost-effective way to clean the pool.
  • Medical: Facilities like hospitals and medical offices can benefit from installing a UV water treatment system. These buildings need clean and disinfected water for numerous reasons, including drinking water for patients, washing hands, cleaning equipment and running tests.
  • Pharmaceutical: Many pharmaceutical companies depend on ultraviolet light water treatment systems for clean, disinfected water. The water used in pharmaceutical products must be free from pathogens, chlorine and other microorganisms before it’s passed down the supply chain.
  • Cosmetics: Products like makeup, skin care and various wellness and beauty products require clean water to prolong shelflife. UV water treatment is a must for companies producing high-quality cosmetics.
  • Laboratory: Many laboratories require that their water is free of any live pathogens, bacteria and viruses. Ultraviolet water treatment is one of the best ways to ensure water in a lab is clean and disinfected before running crucial tests and research.
  • Bottling manufacturing: For wineries, breweries and other bottling facilities, using clean water is essential for creating high-quality products. UV water treatment systems can provide disinfected water for facilities bottling water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.
  • Farming: Those involved in agricultural practices can also benefit from using UV water purification systems. Ensuring drinking water is clean for livestock can help decrease the chances of losing animals due to waterborne illnesses.
  • Wastewater treatment facilities: UV water treatment systems are beneficial in the tertiary stage of wastewater to help combat water scarcity. UV disinfection for wastewater can ensure water can be reused for applications like gardening, flushing and other common secondary uses.
  • Centralized drinking water: When offices, corporate buildings or industrial facilities need clean centralized drinking water for employees, UV water purification systems can get the job done. It’s essential to have drinking water that’s safe from any active pathogens, viruses and bacteria to keep employees safe at work.

Ultraviolet Water Treatment Options

There are different types of UV water treatment systems, so you can find an option that works best for your facility and your needs.

Some of the UV water treatment options you have available include:

  • Single and Multi Lamp Design
  • NPT, Weld or Sanitary Connection
  • UV Output Display
  • LED Lamp Operational Status
  • Vertical or Horizontal Mounting
  • 254 nM or 185 nM

Does a UV System Need Maintenance?

A significant benefit of using a UV water treatment system at your facility is that it requires low maintenance throughout its lifetime. While maintenance will still be necessary to ensure the system is functioning to its full capacity, you won’t have to complete maintenance as often as you may think, and when you do, it’s simple. Following UV light safety precautions regarding maintenance will ensure your system is 100% safe and operational.

Check out some maintenance tips you can use on your facility’s UV water system:

  1. Replace the UV lamp every year: The most significant part of the UV water treatment system is the UV lamp. The intensity of your system’s UV wavelengths will decrease over time due to continuous use. Always change the UV lamp annually to ensure it’s strong and continues to eradicate the bacteria and pathogens in your water supply.
  2. Change the system’s pre-filters and integrated filters: A UV water system will have a series of filters to keep it operational. Keep up with your UV water system by replacing the filters regularly, as they’ll collect particles and debris over time.
  3. Clean the UV sleeve: The clear casing around the UV lamp is called the sleeve. The UV sleeve is crucial for protecting the lamp from debris, sediment and other particles in the water. The collection of particles on the sleeve can impact the water quality by blocking the UV light penetrating the water. Be sure to clean the sleeve regularly and replace it as needed.
  4. Check that the UV lamp still works: Some ultraviolet purification systems include sensors that can detect the level of UV light intensity that the lamp is emitting. Over time, the UV lamp will not release high enough levels of UV light to disinfect the water. Regularly check the effectiveness of your UV lamp to ensure your water is clean.
  5. Check on the UV system performance and water supply: Test the water supply regularly to ensure that your UV disinfection system is functioning properly. Test for contaminants before and after you perform maintenance.

What Is the Best Industrial and Commercial UV Water Treatment System?

Finding the right UV water treatment system is simple when you work with a quality supplier. When you’re looking for high-quality UV purification systems and want to work with professionals, you can trust us at Complete Water Solutions. Complete Water Solutions offers ultraviolet germicidal irradation systems for groundwater and well water supplies.

Browse through our various types of UV water treatment systems, like:

When you have a wide of UV water purification systems to consider, you can feel confident finding the perfect system for your facility. The expert technicians at Complete Water Solutions can guide you to the best solution for your water purification or filtration needs.

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Expert Industrial UV Water Filtration Installation and Maintenance

Complete Water Solutions is a supplier of both commercial and industrial ultraviolet water treatment systems. Our UV purification systems are available in a variety of sizes and configurations to meet the needs of most water purification applications. For applications greater than 500 GPM, multiple UV water systems can be combined in series or parallel to meet the necessary flow requirements. Contact us today to get started!

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