UV disinfection protects employees: simple retrofit of existing ventilation system

A simple retrofit of existing ventilation, incorporating Soluva UVC lamps from Heraeus Noblelight, has increased employee protection and helped to minimize the risk of production downtime in a high-tech cleanroom manufacturing telecommunications components for satellites at the Ulm factory of the Thales Group.

Hanau, 29. January 2021

The Thales Group designs and delivers high technology solutions for telecommunications, navigation, earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. At Ulm, the company builds travelling wave tubes for installation in signal amplifiers. These improve signal strength and thus ensure interference-free reception of satellites for telecommunications and multimedia.

These high-quality components are manufactured in high integrity clean rooms, because the work area must be absolutely dust-free. To achieve this, ventilation systems with fine dust filters are used to clean the used air in a recirculation system. This works perfectly, but this air circulation with only a small proportion of fresh air increases the risk of infection of the employees by COVID19 viruses. The Thales Group invested in infection prevention for its employees early on, both to safeguard employee health and to reduce the risk of a production shutdown. When investigating the various options for rapid additional Covid disinfection of the air, it quickly became apparent that installing HEPA filters of sufficient strength in the existing plant would not work. The existing ventilation system would not have enough capacity to handle the increased drag from the additional filters. The capacity of the system would have had to be doubled.

Looking for alternatives, technicians at Thales worked with an external ventilation contractor and Heraeus Noblelight, specialist for technical light sources, to check whether disinfection with UVC light could be an option. The UV experts calculated how large the UV unit should be for an additional system and finally stipulated the specific number of Soluva UVC lamps that could be easily retrofitted into the existing ventilation system by the ventilation contractor. The lamps are controlled by Soluva D control cabinets to enable effective disinfection of the air in the workrooms.

Kai Penkava, Maintenance Manager CCI at Thales Germany is convinced: "With the simple retrofit into the existing plant, we now not only have a dust-free production but are also protected against viruses and other germs!"

The disinfection effect of UVC light has been proven in several studies:

Study Biotech

Study Tübingen

A simple retrofit with UVC lamps cleans the air in cleanroom production and protects employees.