Kentucky Patent of the Month – May 2023

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation has become an increasingly popular choice in disinfection protocols as the radiation can effectively disinfect fluids and gases. The process of using UV radiation to inactivate microbial contaminants in fluids is referred to as Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI). UV radiation has also been used for oxidizing organic and inorganic materials in a fluid, termed Advance Oxidation Process (AOP). In both methods, a UV source is required, and for practical purposes, the output irradiance of the UV source should be maintained and decay in a predictable manner over the usage lifetime of the UV source. The existing and commercially available irradiation systems lack efficiency and thermal management. 

Inspired by this market gap, AquiSense Technologies LLC has developed a compact, efficient system capable of thermal management. The company uses Micro plasma lamps and solid-state field effect phosphor devices as UV sources to disinfect fluids. Unlike gas discharge lamps, solid-state sources such as LEDs create light in a semiconductor material through charge recombination in an active layer, and they have different optimal operating temperatures where the UV output flux and/or lifetime are maximized.

However, LED manufacturers specify a maximum junction temperature that should not be exceeded. Exceeding this temperature may decrease the lifetime of the LED. In a simplified model, an LED can be represented as a series of thermal resistances. Therefore, heat is removed through the side of the chip that is electrically connected rather than the side responsible for most of the UV emission. This is different from a mercury vapor lamp, which has a thermal discharge predominantly in the same direction as light emission through a quartz sleeve.

AquiSense has improved fluid disinfection using UVGI and AOP methods. LED junction temperatures are maintained within the manufacturer’s specifications by controlling the thermal resistances of the LED package, circuit board, and heat sink. This ensures that the LED operates within optimal temperatures, and the UV source decays in a predictable manner, resulting in an efficient and effective disinfection process. This technology can be directed towards water, air, and surface disinfection applications

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