Portable UV-C canisters provide take-it-with-you coronavirus zapping

Jan. 8, 2021
Osram launches two consumer models via Amazon in Europe to fight airborne SARS-CoV-2 at close proximity. Coming to the US in the spring.

Osram has begun selling a portable battery-powered UV-C canister to consumers for use in homes, cars, workplaces, or other environments to deactivate airborne coronavirus.

The AirZing UV-Compact, which Osram describes as “the size of a hairspray can,” is designed to stand on surfaces such as desktops. The product includes a 253.7-nm UV-C mercury discharge tube, which Osram says is fully enclosed inside the AirZing’s housing for safety purposes.

UV-C tubes at 254 nm have been proven to deactivate SARS-CoV-2, also known as the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. But UV-C is harmful to skin and eyes, which is why Osram is shielding the tube.

The canister also includes a fan to help draw in air and thus increase the rate of deactivation. Osram told LEDs Magazine that AirZing UV-Compact has a “purification radius” of up to a cubic meter and as such is intended for “close proximity” use. For entire rooms, Osram is offering products from its professional line, rather than the consumer-oriented canister, a spokesperson said.

Osram announced last June that is ramping up production of UV-C tubes. It has provided over 2000 hospitals in Wuhan and Beijing with UV-C surface disinfection lamps, and has also shipped UV-C products for use in Chinese kindergartens.

The new AirZing UV-Compact has a lithium battery life of around 90 minutes, and can be recharged in 4 hours via a USB connection, Osram said.

Osram is currently selling two versions in Europe. The standard product lists at €129 and is available in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the UK. The Pro model includes a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter that removes particulates such as pollen and dust. It lists at €159 and is scheduled for availability in the same countries via Amazon by next week. It stands 26 cm (10.2 in.) high and has a diameter of 7 cm (2.75 in.). The standard model is slightly smaller, at 24×6.6 cm.

Enhanced air circulation, such as with the fan that Osram includes in the AirZing, is generally regarded as a good way to boost UV-C’s germicidal effectiveness. In a couple of recent examples, LED luminaire provider Healthe Inc embedded fans inside UV-C LED ceiling fixtures it provided the Miami Dolphins. And ceiling fan maker Big Ass Fans has built UV-C LEDs onto its products. In both cases, the UV-C LEDs come from Crystal IS, based near Albany, NY.

Osram recently entered the UV-C LED chip market. Its UV-C mercury lamps mark an exception to the company’s general trend in recent years of exiting the illumination business, especially now that it has been acquired by Austrian sensor firm ams, a development that has pushed Osram more than ever to focus on chip-level business such as LED and less on illumination and the IoT.

Other notable exceptions continue for now to be Osram’s presence in the horticultural lighting business and automotive bulbs as well as other auto lighting systems.

Germicidal applications in general — whether directly aimed at the coronavirus or at other pathogens — are expected to become more popular now that the COVID-19 pandemic has raised health and hygiene awareness. For example, three months ago Osram introduced another AirZing product, aimed for use inside cars, and targeting viruses and bacteria other than SARS-CoV-2.

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.