Just a 30 minute drive from Corvallis, Willamette Valley Vineyards in Turner, Oregon is using ultraviolet light technology to help with a safe reopening. After being closed for 66 days, the winery is now able to open its doors, as Marion County was approved for Phase 1 reopening status on May 22.
Founder Willamette Valley Vineyards Jim Bernau researched ultraviolet light before ultimately concluding that it was a powerful weapon against the COVID-19 virus. “We know it can kill this thing,” he recently told The Oregonian.
Bernau has since installed ultraviolet light air filtration systems in all his facilities and tasting rooms, at a total cost of $30,000.
The system, dubbed the Air Scrubber Advanced with ActivePure Technology, is made by Aerus Enterprise Solutions in Dallas, Texas. Using heating, ventilation, and air conditioning ducts, oxygen and water molecules in the air pass through ultraviolet light and a “Coated Honeycomb Matric” filtering system. What gets pumped back into the room – according to the company – are converted superoxide and hydroxyl molecules that supposedly destroy common viruses and bacteria in the air and on surfaces.
The EPA does recommend various filtration systems, in conjunction with standard recommended sanitization practices such as regular hand and clothes washing and disinfectant sprays, wipes, and mixed (bleach and vinegar) solutions.
The technology has been on the market since 2013. NASA explains that the key to its function is “a proprietary blend of reactive metals added to the original titanium dioxide coating. When exposed to ultraviolet light, these metals mix with the surrounding air and humidity to produce charged clusters of hydrogen and oxygen such as hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyls, and superoxide ions, which are antimicrobial agents also found in nature.”
Bernau told The Oregonian, “We have always wanted a safe environment for our employees and guests at Willamette Valley Vineyards. These days we just have to be a little more creative.”
By Stevie Beisswanger