Innovative health technology: disinfecting ambulances with UVC light
Ambulances are highly complex systems that have been optimised to save human life. Even when a call-out has been successfully completed, the work is far from over. The vehicles are then cleaned by hand and disinfected with chemicals following a comprehensive plan that can take up to an hour to complete. This is where the innovation comes in from the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB, Applied System Technology Branch and the ambulance and environmental technology company BINZ Ambulance- und Umwelttechnik GmbH. Disinfection solutions based on UVC light are not new. They have been the state of the art for decades, for instance in the field of water purification. However, the comparatively new UVC LED technology has massively expanded the range of applications. A solution based on modern UVC LEDs was therefore chosen to ensure that the stringent requirements for reliable, fast and robust disinfection in ambulance cabins are met at the touch of a button. Compared to conventional and inexpensive mercury-vapour lamps, the UVC LEDs are vibration-proof, offer more-efficient wave lengths for killing viruses and germs, don’t need any time to warm up and can be integrated into the existing lighting system of an ambulance. They also have a longer service life and enable electronic monitoring of the radiation doses. Another noteworthy benefit is that the process disinfects not only the surfaces but also the air inside the ambulance. As Cathrin Wilhelm, CEO of BINZ Ambulance- und Umwelttechnik GmbH in Ilmenau explains, this will now enable “highly efficient disinfection of the entire ambulance cabin in just ten minutes”. The first ambulances with the new light disinfection solution will be available from autumn 2020 – the culmination of three years of development.