With a busy year in place, CW Applied Technology has been going from strength to strength with its ultraviolet light (UV-C) sanitation device, the MUV-X. With companies in Ireland and North America using it, its managing director John O’Connell talks about why the Shannon company made it both practical and affordable and why it’s giving businesses and customers reassurance and peace of mind.
In layman terms, can you explain why the MUV-X is effective at UV-C sanitation?
UV-C has been a long-proven method of killing viruses. What it does is it splits the DNA of the virus so it cannot remain active any longer. It’s been used for a long time and is well known in Ireland for sterilising water in places such as wells.
There is plenty of proof about its effectiveness. The question with UV-C is not if it’s effective but what is the dose you need to apply.
Is it effective against Covid-19?
What is the science behind it, and how do you know it’s effective against viruses?
The MUV-X features four high-output UV-C lamps which are the most important part of any room UV steriliser. It can be wheeled from one room to the next without disassembly.
Every virus is different so we did a calculation based on previous versions of the Sars Covid virus. What we came up with was a figure of 22 Millijoules (mJ) per cm/2 of UV-C energy, which would be used to sanitise rooms for Covid-19.
Recently, this dose level has been independently validated by the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories at Boston University.
All our calculations of room size and time are based around that dosage. For a room of 6 metres x 5 metres, it takes 15 minutes to sterilise and the bigger the space, the longer it takes to disinfect.
No virus or bacteria has been discovered yet that is immune to UV-C and the key is to administer the correct dosage. It’s important to note that UV-C is meant for surfaces and air and not to be used on people.
For larger rooms, are there ways to keep the time of use short without sacrificing quality?
One of the things we did with this product – and an element that we have a patent on – is that we made the units stackable. You can place one MUV-X on top of another one and increase the speed and radius of the operation.
The thinking behind that is for places like dressing rooms and sports halls, which we will have to use when winter arrives. Two units stacked together can sanitise a 20 metres x 18 metres space in one hour.
How does UV-C compare with other methods like fogging or electrostatic spraying?
There are people out there using methods like fogging or misting, but as the World Health Organisation (WHO) said, those methods are ineffective against Covid-19.
UV-C has a germ-killing history stretching back more than a century. UV-C is a natural germicide – it damages the genetic material in bacteria and viruses and many of the top US hospitals have used UV-C systems for decades to irradiate rooms.
Electrostatic sprayer chemicals can be dangerous and damaging to both people and technology nor can it do anything to kill airborne viruses and bacteria. With chemicals, you may solve one problem but create another.
How do you convince those who may be unsure of UV-C’s effectiveness or feel that chemicals or cleaning is more effective?
There’s a long documented history of UV-C being effective against all types of viruses and even if this virus disappears, there are still others out there.
It’s also gaining more interest because it’s chemical-free. We’re always talking about reducing chemicals and being more green. As mentioned, UV-C is a natural germicide with a proven virus-killing track record and no side effects.
Considering how heightened people’s awareness of cleanliness is, how much peace of mind does it give a business’ staff and customers?
Everywhere it’s being used, it provides reassurance. In hotels, the reassurance it gives staff and clients is a huge plus and in schools, parents and teachers alike are strong in their praise.
In one of the medical clinics, we were told it was purchased as elderly patients are unwilling to come in to the clinic even though they need to. The clinics are doing everything they can to make it as safe as possible and the MUV-X helps give that reassurance.
There’s a similarity between the different types of businesses that have purchased it. There’s no question of a placebo effect, or them just ticking a box, It’s a real effort to do as much as they can to protect everyone.
Another important element is its pricing. At €3,500, how does that compare with other similar products out there?
In the NFL, some teams are using UV-C robots in their changing rooms with the principle being exactly the same. What they’re using is highly expensive, it’s a €125,000 robotic version, and there’s no reason why we can’t use a more affordable version here.
The MUV-X is manufactured by an Irish company and we set the same priorities for ourselves for protecting everyone, be it players, staff, or fans.
Hoteliers, clubs, schools, and medical clinics are the main industries using the MUV-X but what has interest been like across the board?
We have a huge cross section of people interested. An interesting one is I wrote to every GAA county board in the country about three weeks ago and two counties in particular expressed strong interest, with one asking for a demo.
To know the two counties concerned wouldn’t surprise anybody as they’re the most successful in both codes which sends a message of its own.
What the businesses say...
More businesses across the country are now using the MUV-X as part of their overall sanitation strategy and it’s clear how it both improves their sanitation efforts and boosts confidence of staff and customers.
Some, like schools, are more dependent upon effective sanitation methods than others. Being a significant part of any community, each school needs to ensure that standards are high and both staff and students are protected.
For Millstreet Boys National School in Co Cork, it had a case recently but its measures, which involved using the MUV-X, alleviated any potential fears parents, staff or students may have had.
The primary school, which has around 100 students, sanitises each room every week and toilets twice a day.
“There’s an extra reassurance that you’re doing everything you can and you’re hitting everything that couldn’t be reached,” said its principal Frank O’Connor.
“In our letter that we had to send out to parents about the case, we could say we have UV-C in place so that’s reassuring for parents.”
Another plus was the absence of chemicals needed to carry out said tasks as O’Connor didn’t want to expose students to them in case there were any negative effects.
A similar note was stuck when speaking to Garage Door Systems in Ballymena, Co Antrim. Having returned to the offices in late April, its quality and process improvement manager Ciara Carlin praised the MUV-X’s ease of use and the thought and effort CW Applied Technology put into the device.
“We wanted people to be confident that we did all the wiping down of surfaces and UV-C supplements all the daily hygiene tasks,” she said.
“They’re really easy to use, and we did a training video where we put a QR code at the side so you scan it and it shows you how to use it.”
For others, it helps add an extra layer of confidence and thoroughness like in Lahinch Golf Club in Co Clare. Its operations manager Kyle Cannon mentioned how they sanitise every single room once a day, including its shop, restaurant, academy and locker rooms and that removes any nerves of attending.
“It’s peace of mind for ourselves, our members, and our staff as they see we’re going above and beyond for their safety,” he said. “We just want everybody who walks in the door to feel like they’re safe as we’re taking all precautions.”