For his research on ultraviolet light disinfection systems, Professor Karl Linden, Ph.D., has been named the recipient of the William W. Edgar Pioneer Award in Disinfection and Public Health from the Water Environment Federation’s Disinfection & Public Health Committee.
Linden’s research specifically examines innovative UV light-based systems that can be used to treat drinking water and wastewater by destroying harmful pathogens and contaminants. Chlorine has traditionally been used as a water disinfectant, Linden says, but there are many challenges that come with using this chemical. Not only can handling chlorine be hazardous but it also forms certain byproducts that are unhealthy for people to ingest and is ineffective against a range of pathogens. UV light, however, does not use any chemicals, is effective against many chlorine resistant pathogens,and is safer to handle.
“UV light has been an emerging technology for a number of years, and it’s really come onto the water treatment scene to where it is seen as a standard solution,” Linden says. “Much of my research has helped to bring it forward to the point that it’s acceptable for public health officials, regulators and water utilities to use UV light and be confident in its capabilities.”
In the past, there were concerns on how to effectively measure UV light and detect whether enough UV was introduced into the system to ensure disinfection, but Linden’s research has helped solve many of those problems. In fact, he and the 50 graduate and undergraduate students he has mentored have made advances regarding UV disinfection fundamentals, UV light measurement techniques, sensor development and testing, and reactor validation testing, says Linden, who has been researching UV light technology since the mid-1990s. With these advances, a water utility can implement a UV system and feel confident in its ability to provide safe, clean water.
The William W. Edgar Pioneer Award recognizes researchers who examine emerging disinfection research, biosolids technologies in disease control and process modeling to improve disinfection practices. Linden received this award while attending the Disinfection & Public Health Conference 2013.