German Research Center Uses UV LED Disinfect System for Beer Bottling

UV LEDs are recently replacing mercury light as UV light source for disinfection applications. German researchers have developed a UV LED based disinfection system to purify brewing water and clean the caps for bottled beer and soft drinks.

Researchers at the Advanced System Technology (AST) branch of the Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB in Ilmenau, Germany, have cooperated in collaboration with PURION, a UV technology solution provider, to create UV LED based purifying module to destroy germs during the process of beverage bottling.

(PURION managing director Mark Wipprich (left) and Fraunhofer researcher Thomas Westerhoff (right) with a UV-C LED module;
image: Fraunhofer IOSB-AST)

Thomas Westerhoff, scientist at Fraunhofer IOSB-AST, and his team designed the UV LED module which delivers a maximum wavelength of 265 nanometers to reach an optimal disinfection performance. Westerhoff indicated that the team had to consider the numbers of LEDs used and how point sources with different wavelengths arranged in the module.

Following numerous practical tests, the researchers are now able to operate the UV LEDs directly in water without the need for a tube to encase them. Thus they eliminate reflections to further increase the performance yield of the radiation sources. For the industrial partner PURION, the experts at Fraunhofer IOSB-AST have developed a special module that can disinfect the insides of beer caps during the production process before the bottles are filled with beer. This ensures that no germs get into the bottles during the production process.

(Test set-up for UV-C LEDs; image: Fraunhofer IOSB-AST)

“We’re able to irradiate the inner surface of the caps with a UV power of four watts. Doing that with mercury-vapor lamps on such a small surface is almost impossible,” said the engineer.

The market of UV LED is expanding with driving momentum from surface, air, static and flowing water disinfection. LEDinside pointed out in the latest report “2019 Deep UV LED Application Market- Sterilization, Purification, and Water Treatment Markets” that the UV LED market value is forecasted to reach US$ 991 million in 2023.

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