Another European soccer team goes for UV-C to fight COVID-19

Nov. 11, 2020
PSV Eindhoven taps ceiling luminaires from Signify to disinfect air in the locker rooms, even when people are present.

Signify is installing coronavirus disinfection lighting in the locker room of another European professional soccer team, this time heading three miles up the road from company headquarters to outfit the Dutch team in its hometown of Eindhoven, where Signify is a corporate sponsor.

PSV Eindhoven, which plays in the Netherlands’ top league, will start installing a total of 15 UV-C ceiling luminaires next week in the locker rooms at the club’s stadium, as well as at indoor areas at a separate training facility.

Eindhoven is at least the second club to deploy Signify’s Philips brand UV-C luminaires. Three weeks ago, Signify announced that it won a deal to install ceiling-based UV-C air purifiers for the RB Leipzig soccer team in Germany, in dressing rooms and other areas.

The ceiling fittings do not use LED radiation sources. Rather, they house conventional mercury-vapor lamps, emitting at 254 nm, which is part of the C-band of ultraviolet radiation. Ultraviolet is invisible radiation, as opposed to visible light. But ultraviolet is commonly referred to as light because it comes from light sources such as the Sun and lamps.

UV-C has a shorter wavelength than the A and B bands. Unlike A and B, natural solar-emitted C does not reach Earth, because the ozone layer absorbs it.

A Boston University lab showed earlier this year that the Signify artificial UV-C technology kills the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 and is generally known as the coronavirus.

UV-C is harmful to skin and eyes, but Signify says the design of its ceiling luminaire makes it safe to use when people are present.

The suspended UV-C source points upwards to the ceiling, rather than down at the room and any people, using shielding and optics. It is built for air disinfection rather than for treating objects and surfaces. Air circulating through a gap between the ceiling and the fixture passes through UV-C radiation, which deactivates the coronavirus as well as other airborne viruses and bacteria.

“Safeguarding player health is very important to us and essential for matches to continue,” said PSV commercial director Frans Janssen. “That is why we want to protect them, and the visiting players, to the best of our ability. We are convinced that the Philips UV-C disinfection upper air lighting enables us to provide our players with that extra layer of protection.”

Neither Signify nor PSV revealed how much PSV is paying for the ceiling units. Signify told LEDs Magazine that the team “paid a normal price.”

PSV and Signify share a long interwoven corporate history that is apparent today in Signify’s co-sponsorship of the team along with Signify’s former parent, Royal Philips N.V, which until about five years ago had been the main sponsor for a century. Together they are now among several sponsors. PSV’s stadium is called Philips Stadium under a deal that started in 2015, before Signify’s 2016 split from Philips as a separate company called Philips Lighting, which then changed its name to Signify in 2018.

The football team started life in 1913 as a team for Philips employees. The “P” in PSV stands for Philips, and the acronym is short for Philips Sport Vereniging (Philips Sports Union).

Signify still uses the Philips brand name. It has made UV-C lamps and luminaires a top priority since April, in the earlier days of the coronavirus pandemic. It is ramping up production of 12 different luminaires and UV-C chambers, which it is selling both under its own label and on an OEM basis.

As LEDs Magazine has reported, the company’s products include a UV-C table lamp for home use in Asia and the Middle East. Observers have questioned the safety of the product, given that the chance of human exposure at home would seem high. Signify says that safety features include a voice control system, and a sensor that switches off operation when it detects motion indicating that people are present.

In an example of UV-C lighting used when people are not present, two 19th-century Spanish theaters are deploying UV-C to disinfect empty seating and rehearsal areas. The theaters are using a brand from Chinese provider Goldensea, which is believed to purchase the UV sources on an OEM basis from Signify.

MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).

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About the Author

Mark Halper | Contributing Editor, LEDs Magazine, and Business/Energy/Technology Journalist

Mark Halper is a freelance business, technology, and science journalist who covers everything from media moguls to subatomic particles. Halper has written from locations around the world for TIME Magazine, Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Guardian, CBS, Wired, and many others. A US citizen living in Britain, he cut his journalism teeth cutting and pasting copy for an English-language daily newspaper in Mexico City. Halper has a BA in history from Cornell University.