Ultraviolet-C (UVC) Germicidal Devices: What Consumers Need to Know
November 22, 2022
In the summer of 2022, LG Business Solutions USA demonstrated three new autonomous robots for use in commercial environments: the LG CLOi ServeBot, the LG CLOi GuideBot and the LG CLOi UV-C Bot (model RDIIM10). (CLOi, pronounced like the name Chloë, stands for close-operating intelligence.) The robots self-navigate to provide application-specific services for a range of businesses and industries. LG’s autonomous technology needed a Notified Body with the expertise to test and certify such advanced robots — each with a unique skill set and service function. LG found their testing and certification partner in UL Solutions.
UL Solutions tested and certified all three LG robots, but here we’ll concentrate on the testing and certification specific to model RDIIM10. This robot uses ultraviolet C (UVC) ionizing radiation to disinfect high-touch, high-traffic areas, such as those in restaurants, retail stores and hotels.
UVC combats infectious diseases
UVC radiation has been used effectively to disinfect air, water and nonporous surfaces for decades. In recent years, UVC lamps proved effective against the SARS-coronavirus, and such lamps were enlisted to combat COVID-19.
Direct UVC exposure inactivates microorganisms on various surface materials, but UVC radiation can also pose a threat to nearby humans — particularly, it can cause burns to the skin and eyes. UVC can also degrade such materials as plastic, polymers and dyed textiles. The key to safer UVC use is containment, which refers to a set of design criteria in which people or vulnerable materials are not exposed to excessive UVC, but microorganisms are. Consumer-oriented germicidal devices such as model RDIIM10 achieve containment by locating the UVC source strategically within the product enclosure. This protects the human counterpart and shields vulnerable materials from excessive exposure.
UVC has germicidal benefits, killing bacteria and deactivating viruses depending on the exposure dose, which is based on source strength, proximity and time. However, UVC exposure presents serious risks, so proper safety precautions are essential.
UL Solutions certifies robotic germicidal equipment
At UL Solutions, we have extensive familiarity with autonomous systems and artificial intelligence. We also understand optical radiation and the risks and benefits of UVC — particularly its disinfecting properties and uses in consumer, commercial and medical settings. For RDIIM10, which required unique testing and certification criteria, we certified the model to UL 60335-2-2019, the first and currently only Outline of Investigation (OOI) for Robotic Germicidal Equipment. UL 60335-2-2019 provides the first set of requirements that specifically addresses UVC disinfection robots. The OOI’s holistic approach includes requirements to evaluate the robotic base, electromagnetic compatibility, remote software update, ultraviolet light exposure, electric safety, robot operational safety, UVC radiation effects, controls and sensors and other critical safety and performance systems. UL 60335-2-2019 certification considers remote software update requirements from UL 5500 and other standards.
UVC germicidal devices are entering the market rapidly because of increased demand for sanitizing and germicidal-capable equipment. Unfortunately, many consumer-oriented UVC germicidal devices do not employ proper containment or other equivalent means of protection. Instead, these devices tend to rely solely on markings or integral timers, unreliable sensors or remote controllers, which still leave room for scenarios where humans, animals or collateral materials may suffer from overexposure to UVC light. However, LG worked with UL Solutions to help verify that their UVC disinfection robot worked safely, earning the UL Mark that consumers have come to know and trust.
As safety science experts, UL Solutions applies science and objective authority to help both manufacturers and consumers navigate risk and complexity. For autonomous UVC disinfection, we enlisted the help of UL Standards & Engagement, the National Electric Manufacturers Association (NEMA) and the American Lighting Association (ALA) — to make sure our UVC safety certification is as accurate and thorough as possible.
For more information, visit UL.com or our Safety Testing and Certification Services for Ultraviolet Radiation Devices page.
"The UL certification of all three [autonomous robot] models is a major step forward for commercial and consumer robots."