By Melissa Lupal

Clean drinking water is on the top of the list of necessary commodities. We read about it in the local newspaper, hear about it on the news or possibly attend a technical session on how to ensure its safety and potability. All of us in the drinking water industry have learned over the years how to treat water that is not safe, how to specify the appropriate equipment for various applications and, in some cases, have even installed a water treatment system or two with our own capable hands. But have we explored all areas where clean drinking water is needed? Clean drinking water is needed in the westernized home but where else? The office, our children’s schools and daycare centers, hospitals and government buildings all come to mind, but perhaps we need to broaden that circle of thought.

In Western societies, it is very simple to go about cleaning our water. We take a sample, test the parameters and based on the results, find the appropriate equipment through the various water treatment channels: retail outlets, water treatment dealers, plumbing wholesalers or perhaps even the internet. But let’s go outside of that train of thought for a moment. Consider that drinking water, free from pathogenic microorganisms, is required in many ‘off-the-grid’ areas other than those most obvious. Let’s go outside of the box and explore how water can be treated even without the availability of public utility.

What does ‘off-the-grid’ mean and what types of applications are considered as such? ‘Off-the-grid’ refers to living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on one or more public utility. It can also be defined as living without using the services of public or private utility companies (grids) such as electric, gas or water, by generating and providing for one’s own needs. These applications can include homes or facilities relying on solar power to treat rainwater for their drinking water supply, portable water treatment skids needed in disaster episodes (like hurricane hit areas), military sites, remote villages that have no access to power, remote industry (logging or mining), traveling fairs or festivals that want to have clean drinking water available to their patrons, persons traveling by RV that do not have reassurance of clean water being available to them, or perhaps water filling stations that are located in areas where a reliable power source is not accessible. This is another set of applications to be considered for those needing access to clean drinking water and there is an easy solution to this need: the 12V DC UV disinfection system incorporated into the water treatment solution.

There are many pros to consider when looking at 12 VDC power:

  • Trouble free and cost effective: Electric and electronic devices operated from 12 VDC can be operated anywhere in the world without risking a conflict with local regulatory agencies. Electric and electronic devices operated from 12VDC tend to be absent from electrical safety testing; all devices powered by 0-42VDC are considered (world-wide) completely safe.
  • Mobility: Any 12VDC battery can be used as your power source ANYWHERE

Potential for new markets
By putting the long term focus on AC powered devices alone, UV manufacturers face a barrier from expanding into specific markets (i.e., some international markets) and are therefore prevented from reaching potential markets with an extreme demand for safety and mobility. Let’s focus on three areas where clean drinking water is needed but a reliable power source is not available:

  1. Rainwater harvesting in remote areas
  2. Portable water treatment skids needed in disaster episodes
  3. Recreational vehicle industry

Rainwater harvesting is the gathering and storage of rainwater. These types of systems are used for many reasons, primarily water scarcity, but also utilizing rainwater catchments can aid in the expansion of drinking water resources. Collecting rainwater for household use is quite efficient if the proper catchment has been installed, with the appropriate water treatment equipment.Catchment water should not simply be considered pure and safe to drink. Any exposure to the elements could elevate contaminant levels, especially bacterial. Microorganisms may be present from possible animal droppings, inadvertent contaminants or elevated temperatures during times of storage. Therefore, water treatment must be considered, which would include both pre-filtration and UV disinfection.

This is an easy solution if the home is located in an area where a reliable power source is accessible, but what about homes on a mountainside in Hawaii or in a remote village? With a 12V DC UV disinfection system, feedwater being collected from the catchment can be directed into the UV system, ensuring inactivation of all microbiological pathogens using either solar power or a 12V DC battery. Rainwater catchments are becoming one of the most prevalent methods of bringing drinking water to the people of the world where conventional water treatment systems do not meet their needs.

Skid-mounted water treatment systems (not requiring AC power to operate) utilized in emergency situations can mean that a community in crisis can still have access to clean drinking water. An emergency situation could mean anything from an area that has been hit by a hurricane (which may destroy all resources) to earthquake or flood-prone regions. All of these disasters can severely jeopardize not only the power resources, but also the drinking water in the immediate area, causing the water to be unsafe to drink. Transporting bottled water to an affected area may not be feasible; it can be very costly as well as environmentally taxing. One small, skid-mounted water treatment system, treating a flow rate of approximately 10 gpm (37.85 liters/minute) could save well over $300,000 (USD), as well as eliminate the injection of over 50,000 plastic water bottles in that area. By using a mobile water treatment system that can be powered by a 12V DC car battery, the compromised water sources could be easily salvaged, saving not only money and time but numerous lives.

Recreational vehicles are no longer small boxes that can be pulled behind our cars and pop up into a tent once you turn the crank. RVs today are complete homes on wheels. But RVs don’t stay still for very long, traveling from one campground to the next, sometimes jumping from country to country. If one wants all the amenities of home, this will include water to bathe in, water to assist in the preparation of food and water to drink. Every time the RV stops, it doesn’t necessarily have the option of hooking up to water and/or electricity. And if water is available, how safe is it to use for drinking or preparing food? By installing a small water treatment system, which includes a 12V DC UV disinfection unit as well as some form of pre-filtration, No matter where that vehicle stops for the night, water is available. It doesn’t matter if it’s water stored in the RV or water that is being pulled from a connection; regardless of where it comes from, it will be treated by the UV system without the need of AC power.

Conclusion
There are many examples of how a 12V DC UV disinfection system can be useful in off-the-grid-type applications. Clean water is a valuable commodity worldwide, whether it is within our westernized communities or in a village far from civilization. The absence of public utility should not be the deciding factor in whether or not safe drinking water is available.

About the author
Melissa Lupal is Technical Sales contact at LUMINOR Environmental. She began her career in the drinking water industry almost 10 years ago at R-Can Environmental. Lupal’s credentials include a Bachelors of Science Degree focusing on environmental biology from the University Of Western, London, Ontario, as well as a technical diploma in environmental technology from Fanshawe College. She can be contacted at malupal@luminoruv.com

About the company
LUMINOR Environmental Inc., a privately held Canadian manufacturing corporation in Guelph, Ontario, specializes in non-invasive, environmentally friendly ultraviolet disinfection technologies, The company designs and manufactures safe, easy-to-use and value-driven UV-based solutions for home, industry and small municipal applications. As a responsible corporate citizen, LUMINOR is committed to providing environmentally friendly solutions to aid its global customer base in their quest for safe, clean water. The company’s motto, Illuminating technologies for life, is the driving force behind its employees’ quest to protect water resources for future generations.

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