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Ultraviolet light-emitting diodes in water disinfection

  • AREA 5.1 • MICROBIAL WASTE DISPOSAL AND GROUNDWATER REMEDIATION • RESEARCH ARTICLE
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Abstract

Background, aim, and scope

The novel system of ultraviolet light-emitting diodes (UV LEDs) was studied in water disinfection. Conventional UV lamps, like mercury vapor lamp, consume much energy and are considered to be problem waste after use. UV LEDs are energy efficient and free of toxicants. This study showed the suitability of LEDs in disinfection and provided information of the effect of two emitted wavelengths and different test mediums to Escherichia coli destruction.

Materials and methods

Common laboratory strain of E. coli (K12) was used and the effects of two emitted wavelengths (269 and 276 nm) were investigated with two photolytic batch reactors both including ten LEDs. The effects of test medium were examined with ultrapure water, nutrient and water, and nutrient and water with humic acids.

Results

Efficiency of reactors was almost the same even though the one emitting higher wavelength had doubled optical power compared to the other. Therefore, the effect of wavelength was evident and the radiation emitted at 269 nm was more powerful. Also, the impact of background was studied and noticed to have only slight deteriorating effect. In the 5-min experiment, the bacterial reduction of three to four log colony-forming units (CFU) per cubic centimeter was achieved, in all cases.

Discussion

When turbidity of the test medium was greater, part of the UV radiation was spent on the absorption and reactions with extra substances on liquid. Humic acids can also coat the bacteria reducing the sensitivity of the cells to UV light. The lower wavelength was distinctly more efficient when the optical power is considered, even though the difference of wavelengths was small. The reason presumably is the greater absorption of DNA causing more efficient bacterial breakage.

Conclusions

UV LEDs were efficient in E. coli destruction, even if LEDs were considered to have rather low optical power. The effect of wavelengths was noticeable but the test medium did not have much impact.

Recommendations and perspectives

This study found UV LEDs to be an optimal method for bacterial disinfection. The emitted wavelength was found to be an essential factor when using LEDs; thus, care should be taken in selecting the proper LED for maximum disinfection.

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Acknowledgements

This work was financially supported by the Finnish Environmental Science and Technology graduate school (EnSTe), EU, and city of Mikkeli. The authors greatly thank Ms. Taija Holm for laboratory assistance.

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Correspondence to Sari Vilhunen.

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Vilhunen, S., Särkkä, H. & Sillanpää, M. Ultraviolet light-emitting diodes in water disinfection. Environ Sci Pollut Res 16, 439–442 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-009-0103-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-009-0103-y

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