The germ-killing light that cleans the air in hospitals

Case Study: The germ-killing light that cleans the air in hospitals

Healthy light and healthy air.

That’s the promise of a new luminaire developed in Italy, which not only fine-tunes its light to keep our body clocks in sync, but also kills bacteria, helping to prevent the spread of diseases.

The product has been developed by Fairwind, a technology company based near Venice that specialises in products for health and wellbeing, including lights that can change in colour and brightness to match the body’s circadian rhythm, promoting good health. Fairwind developed the product in collaboration with Artelight.

The so-called Hygienizing Lamp, or H-Lamp, combines tuneable light with air purification, thanks to a specially coated UV light source that breaks down bacteria and other impurities. (see “How the antibacterial light works” below). It will be available to specify in a few months’ time.

Cipriano Padovan, field application manager at Fairwind, says the H-Lamp could be used in pretty much any public place. “You could apply it in clinics, dentists’ surgeries, schools, homes for elderly people, or in industry,” he said. “For example we are designing something particular for disinfection in the food industry and in winemaking. Local health services are also very interested.”


The H-Lamp came about through Lighting for People’s open innovation programme (part of the SSLerate project), where lighting companies are encouraged to pool their knowledge and resources to explore new avenues for development.

In 2014, representatives of more than 30 companies, universities and municipalities took part in a series of workshops in Venice organised by the local Luce in Veneto consortium, to come up with ideas that they could take further.

Fairwind and another local company, Arte Light, were interested in creating a product that would improve light and air quality at the same time. With the help of Luce in Veneto they secured funding from the European Social Fund, and conducted a survey of health professionals.

The survey revealed that one of the top concerns when choosing light fittings for hospitals, doctors’ surgeries and dental clinics was infection control. Health professionals considered this just as important as light quality and low maintenance.

The H-Lamp was born, and Fairwind and Arte Light unveiled their first prototype in the summer of 2015.

Rather than being limited to a single form factor, the H-Lamp will be available in a number of versions: 600x600mm recessed panels, a circular ceiling fitting, a pendant luminaire, and floor-standing luminaries.

Researchers at Padua University are currently conducting tests on the H-Lamp’s photocatalytic technology, and two experimental installations are due to begin in the next few weeks. The product is expected to be ready to specify in May.

The light changes in colour through the day to keep the body clock in sync, and kills bacteria in the air at the same time (Photo: Fairwind)

How the antibacterial light works

The H-Lamp contains normal LEDs that provide visible light, as well as ultraviolet LEDs that sit behind a diffuser coated in titanium dioxide (TiO2). Titanium dioxide is a photocatalyst, meaning that it speeds up chemical reactions caused by light.

The UV light stimulates the titanium dioxide molecules, while a fan gets air circulating through the fitting. As the air passes over the surface, a chemical reaction is triggered in the molecules of pollutants and bacteria, breaking them down into harmless substances.

At the same time, the other LEDs give off visible light in several different colours, allowing the light to be tuned from cool to warm. In this way, the light mimics the natural changes in the colour and intensity of sunlight through the day, which helps to keep our body clocks in sync, promoting health, wellbeing and alertness.