Benefits of UV Disinfection in the Beverage Industry

Is UV disinfection your answer to sustainability and cost management?

Could UV disinfection be the answer to sustainability and cost management for the beverage industry? In the second part of our series focusing on the beverage industry, we look at the advantages of chemical-free UV treatment in preventing microbial growth. Tony Leigh, Senior Global Product Manager at Evoqua Water Technologies, shares his insight and answers common questions around UV water treatment for the beverage industry. 

We have just hosted our second in a four-part series of webinars on sustainable disinfection solutions for the beverage industry. So far, the series has been well received by the industry and stimulated some interesting discussions. Now, I would like to shine the spotlight on ultraviolet (UV) disinfection and why it is an ideal solution for businesses looking to reduce chemical usage while cutting carbon emissions. 


Why is UV disinfection becoming more popular? 

UV disinfection systems are effective against a wide range of micro-organisms including chlorine-tolerant pathogens, like cryptosporidium. It is a great solution that can combat microbial populations resistant to chemicals and heat while also being efficient and effective, helping to reduce capital expenditure. 

Without the need for chemicals, UV technology limits by-product formations caused by chemical additions and does not introduce any poor taste or odour compounds to the liquid being treated. While the systems are generally easy to install or retrofit to existing plants, they are also a low-maintenance technology that often reduces engineering time and therefore operational expenditure. 

With the global spotlight on sustainable solutions, UV disinfection is leading the charge. It is energy-efficient, reduces chemical requirements and enables greater water re-use. UV is one of the most sustainable disinfection solutions available today.  


How does UV disinfection work? 

UV treatment effectively damages the DNA of micro-organisms with photons, making it impossible for the microbes to replicate and contaminate the water. Additionally, these photons chemically change and damage contaminants, and can reduce concentrations of excess chlorine. 

So, what does a UV treatment system consist of? It is an in-line system that is integrated with the pipework, housing a powerful UV lamp. As the liquid passes through the pipework, the liquid is rapidly disinfected. While basic systems include instrumentation and control systems for core functionality, advanced systems can employ data logging, remote monitoring, digitalisation and full integration with factory control systems. 

Here, at Evoqua, we have developed a number of innovative, industry-leading water treatment processes that use chlorine dioxide, ozone generation, on-site hypochlorite generation and, of course, UV disinfection. As well as the technology, we have the expertise to support the beverage industry with UV solutions. Here are the answers to some of the frequently asked questions. 


Q. What impact will existing/upcoming regulations have on the industry?

A. Regulation (EU) 2020/741 of the European Parliament is the first step of a general approach to water recovery for regulators, intended to conserve water in water-stressed areas. Generally speaking, we can expect more of this type of regulation in the future. As beverage manufacturers use significant quantities of water, efficiency and re-use benefits are integral to their sustainability efforts. This extends even to farming irrigation within the beverage supply chain, where poor water management for crops like sugar beet could reflect poorly upon the industry. In the future, the environmental credibility of beverage companies will encapsulate all water consumption, from irrigation through to final bottling and could also be part of regulatory reporting.


Q. How is UV providing production safety?

A. UV is considered environmentally friendly as it is chemical-free or significantly reduces chemical requirements. This also means that personnel safety is increased by minimising chemical handling. While UV lamps do have specific handling requirements, they are far simpler than chemical-based disinfection solutions.


Q. Why can UV treatment be used in combination with ozone disinfection?

A. So, these are two chemical-free processes and work synergistically. With UV, disinfection happens instantly, and ozone allows for residual disinfection with its short half-life, and the breaking down of organic compounds. For sanitation, you can inject ozone into the liquid for primary disinfection and then UV can be used downstream to break down the ozone and as a secondary disinfection method.


Q. Can UV be effectively used for high-viscosity liquids?

A. When you have low transmittance fluids, you need to have systems designed with UV lamps that are closer together and smaller disinfection chambers. Often, these systems are designed with recirculation so that the liquid experiences multiple UV passes for complete and effective disinfection.


Q. What is the difference between validated and non-validated UV systems?

A. Historically, validation was a certification for materials and instrumentation. These days, however, validation in the UV industry refers to third-party bioassay tests of the equipment. These tests are not conducted with the organisms we are treating, but with surrogates. Systems can then be rated using their reduction equivalent dose (RED) - a UV dose measured by the reduction of equivalent organisms. 


For more information, watch the webinar here. If you have any questions about Evoqua’s treatment systems or how they can enable your sustainability ambitions, please get in touch with Tony at or Sueli Roel at   



*Performance limitations depend on feed conditions, overall installed system design, and operation and maintenance processes; please refer to Operations Manuals.  For specific information on disinfection claims, please visit: