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Disinfection Innovation

Posted on Wednesday, October 16th, 2019 | Posted in News

Move over, chemical disinfection! Other affordable treatment technologies are in the wings.

Inside an open cabinet below a kitchen sink, there is a small blue box.

Advances in LED technology have made UV-LED disinfection practical and affordable for multiple applications, according to webinar presenters. The small under-sink unit above (enlarged image inset) uses germicidal UV to disinfect to up 1 gallon per minute using less than 3 watts of power.

Last month, NEIWPCC hosted a pair of online talks by scientists developing alternative disinfection technologies.

In a September 10 webinar, Dr. Souheil Benzerrouk of Canopus Water Technologies described how improvements in LED technology have made ultraviolet LED disinfection practical and affordable.

On September 4, Dr. Ljiljana Rajic of the Pioneer Valley Coral and Natural Science Institute and Elateq described technology that treats multiple pollutants using activated carbon and a small amount of electricity to drive electrochemical reactions. The technique simultaneously removes heavy metals, inactivates pathogens, and degrades organic pollutants.

Both technologies avoid chemical disinfectants, which can create harmful disinfection byproducts when they react with organic matter.

Benzerrouk and his colleague Hichem Hadjeres said LEDs can emit UV light in the germicidal range without any of the drawbacks of mercury vapor lamps.

LEDs are small and they aren’t fragile like mercury lamps. Consequently they can easily be transported and installed at a point of use (a single faucet), a point of entry (of a single building), or at a treatment plant.

In addition, LEDs run on a small fraction of the energy that mercury vapor lamps use and they don’t require any time to warm up before functioning.


Rajic said her technology is applicable for advanced treatment of municipal and industrial wastewater, such as wastewater from metal-plating facilities. Like the LED technology, the electrochemical technology is energy efficient and compact, so it can be installed anywhere at a treatment plant, and it can run on solar power.

Benzerrouk said he believes LED disinfection is suitable for municipal settings, but his company hasn’t tested the technology at that scale yet. Right now he sees plenty of opportunities for people to install the technology in homes that use well water. LED disinfection could also serve as a backup in case a municipal treatment system is compromised by a storm or other emergency, he said.

When Rajic delivered the talk for NEIWPCC, she was in the midst of pilot testing the technology at two wastewater treatment plants in Massachusetts. She said the product requires little maintenance and when it goes on the market it will be less expensive than existing systems because it incorporates low-cost materials.

Three white cylindrical electrochemical treatment units being pilot tested at a wastewater treatment plant

Above, three electrochemical treatment units are pilot tested at a wastewater treatment plant. The units use activated carbon and a small amount of electricity to drive electrochemical reactions that remove heavy metals, inactivate pathogens, and degrade organic pollutants.

The webinars were attended by health-agency and environmental-agency personnel from around the region. Others included staff memners of environmental consulting businesses, and drinking-water-system operators in the public and private sectors.

Drinking-water-system operators from Maine and New York earned training credit for participating in the UV-LED webinar.

Two people sit at a table in front of a laptop; one is talking and gesturing.

The speakers for NEIWPCC’s webinars usually participate remotely, but on September 10 Dr. Souheil Benzerrouk (left) and Hichem Hadjeres, both of Canopus Water Technologies, delivered their webinar presentation from the Commission’s headquarters in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Both webinars were part of NEIWPCC’s Regional Research Initiative, which is dedicated to sharing information about water-related research and techniques from around the Northeast.

In the past year NEIWPCC has also offered webinars in the areas of underground storage tanks, wetlands, and pollution budgets.

The mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute endorsement or recommendation for use. NEIWPCC does not directly or indirectly endorse any product or service provided, or to be provided, by either Canopus Water Technologies or Elateq.

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