With robots against viruses

Hanau, July 15, 2020

Especially since the outbreak of the corona virus, the topic of disinfection has been omnipresent. On the shelves of drugstores there was a yawning emptiness where disinfectant spray was usually lined up bottle after bottle. Disinfection wipes - often sold out for weeks. For private households or the quick disinfection of the keyboard in the office these products are very suitable. But viruses and germs also spread over large surfaces and in the air, where they cannot be eliminated so easily with conventional disinfectants.

Heraeus Innovation: UV-Robot

Experts have found that corona viruses, for example, can survive on surfaces for an average of four to five days at room temperature. They float in the air for a few hours before sinking to the ground or other surfaces.

This makes it all the more important that these surfaces and the air are regularly disinfected - especially in places where there are many people - to prevent the spread of disease. These places include airports, for example, but also hospitals and public transport stops. In China, a first robot prototype is currently being used for these areas, which kills viruses and bacteria using UV light.

This robot sucks in air and directs it through a channel inside the robot equipped with UV lamps. This kills up to 99.9 % of the viruses and bacteria in the air.

UV Robot
Prototype of the next-generation robot: it will be equipped with hydrogen peroxide spray in addition to UV for better disinfection effects.

How does UV light work against viruses and bacteria?

UV light in the wavelength range from 200 to 300 nm has a disinfecting effect. It is absorbed by the DNA of microorganisms, destroys their structure and inactivates living cells. Viruses, bacteria, yeasts and fungi can thus be rendered harmless within seconds. This method is very sustainable, as microorganisms cannot develop resistance to UV rays. It is also an environmentally friendly method, as it works reliably if the irradiation intensity is sufficiently high and no chemicals are required. By the way,  taxi drivers in Berlin also use this method to disinfect the seats after passengers get off - or steering wheels when changing drivers.

UV light against viruses - not just since Corona

UV light has been used to eliminate germs not only since the outbreak of the corona pandemic. Heraeus Noblelight has supplied UV lamps to the food processing industry, the pharmaceutical industry, airports and many other public institutions for many years. Because even food packaging, such as yogurt pots, drinking water and air are disinfected there with UV light.  Learn more about the effect of UV lamps from Heraeus Noblelight.