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RC Lux

Spotlight on a New Sterilizer


© P. Sortais RC-Lux (SAS) & LPSC/IN2P3

The size of a soda can, the UV lamps from RC Lux could become the most cost-effective and practical way of sterilizing water at usage points.

A promising new concept could revolutionize current water-sterilization processes.

RC Lux, a start-up spawned by the Grenoble Laboratory for Subatomic Physics and Cosmology (LPSC),1 has released a prototype ultraviolet lamp capable of killing bacteria with devastating efficiency. Compact–the size of a soda can–and with an extremely long lifespan, this lamp should emerge as the most cost-effective process for sterilizing water at usage points.

RC Lux was created in 2003 when Pascal Sortais, an LPSC research engineer and specialist in plasma and ion sources, realized that commercial UV lamps were expensive and offered a relatively low shelf life (merely a few thousand hours). Furthermore, to produce radiation they used a variety of plasma that was fairly unstable compared to the plasma that Sortais was developing for particle accelerators. “I was convinced that I could take the UV lamp technology one step further. It was simply a question of gearing the particle accelerator technologies towards lower energies,” he remembers.

He got to work, and in January 2004, he presented his project to the laboratory, which immediately offered its support. “Sortais had a sound reputation and had already designed highly innovative systems for the laboratory. In fact, we always try to encourage such value-added initiatives,” explains Johan Collot, LPSC director.

But that was not the only helping hand offered to Sortais: He received aid from the Grenoble incubator Grain and from the Rhône-Alpes region. Furthermore, his project won two awards, one for innovative start-up in 2005 (in the “Emerging” category of a national competition), and the other for innovative technology (given by Ademe, the French agency for environment and energy management).

With both this support and strong backing from investors, Sortais created RC Lux in January 2006, with his associate Xavier

Pellet. The investment capital has enabled them to manufacture the first prototype UV lamp and carry out in-depth market research. RC Lux is initially aimed at the hospital and food-processing markets, but these lamps could also make their way to drinking fountains, where chlorine cannot be used for fear of giving the water a bad taste. And it won't stop there. Sortais is now looking at many other applications, such as a process combined with titanium dioxide for sterilizing air.


Sebastián Escalón

Notes :

1. Laboratoire de physique subatomique et de cosmologie de Grenoble (CNRS-IN2P3 / Université Joseph Fourier / Grenoble Institute of Technology joint lab).

Contacts :

Pascal Sortais
LPSC, Grenoble.


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