How a complex showerhead changed the UV market forever

Van Remmen 25 years: The various product developments of recent years

Over 25 years, Van Remmen UV Technology developed a large collection of unique UV systems in the market. How did they achieve this as a small family business? What was the process towards these systems? And what developments are still to come? Kaspar Groot Kormelinck (R&D manager and Albert-Jan Foederer (Accountmanager) take you through the story that began with a failed experiment with a showerhead.

The showerhead

It was around 2001 when Ton van Remmen and Janine Wanders had a brilliant idea. What if they designed a showerhead with an internal UV-reactor that breaks down Legionella in water? Then no sports hall, swimming pool or hospital would ever have to worry about Legionella contamination again! Technically possible, successful on paper. But then came the tests… ‘’Sometimes with good disinfection results, other times not. No matter what Janine tried, she couldn’t get consistent results’’, says Kaspar. ‘’ A showerhead must always be effective, otherwise, it’s worthless. ‘’ The development of this showerhead was too early for the market, but it did open the doors to re-evaluate how water flows.

Flow management system

You might say the experiment failed. Cut your losses and move on. But this experience turned out to be the starting point for a significant innovation. ‘’The inconsistent results of the showerhead were caused by the unpredictable flow of water past the lamps’’, says Albert-Jan. ‘’ This led us to delve into measuring, analysing and influencing waterflows in our reactors. From that research, our Flow Management System emerged, where we use a flow plate to direct water through a reactor in the correct manner. With the right amount, speed, and route, tailored to the quality of the water. This way, every drop received the optimal dose of UV-C light without consuming unnecessary energy – after all, you can only kill a bacterium once.’’

Validated UV-systems

The discovery of the Flow Management System presented an unique opportunity. Now that Van Remmen could control and influence all the conditions and functionalities of the reactor, it opened the door to scientific testing. Kaspar explains, ‘’UV systems were primarily designed on paper with many assumptions at that time. We could now test our systems in practice under all imaginable conditions. With water containing various types of contaminations, high and low transmittances, turbid or clear and of various compositions. With these results, we optimized our systems until we could prove: our systems offer scientifically proven maximum effectiveness, at least 30% more efficient than other UV systems on the market. Validated systems, always reliable. These were and still are unique in the UV world. And from this moment on, they became our standard: top quality, reliable, and affordable.”

Unrelenting Pioneers

This story says it all about Van Remmen, according to Kaspar and Albert-Jan. ‘’Although we are a company, Ton started as a pioneer, and that mentality is in our DNA. We want to explore, better understand our technology, and continuously work on new applications for our systems. Often in collaboration with knowledge institutes and customers, ‘’ says Kaspar. Albert-Jan adds, ‘’This has already led to several remarkable new products. For instance, we developed a custom UV system for horticulture in collaboration with Ridder, created a comprehensive solution for wastewater in the maritime sector with Gertsen & Olufsen and Jets Group, and from a partnership with UVO3 emerged a powerful UV system for very dirty water, targeting the agricultural market in the United Kingdom. But now, for example, we are also working on a UV system in hospital siphons with UMCG, to combat (resistant) bacteria for the most vulnerable individuals. ‘’

The knowledge partner in Europe

This investigative spirit has made Van Remmen UV Technology, as relatively small family business, the UV knowledge partner for companies and prominent knowledge institutions in Europe and even beyond in just a quarter of the century. ‘’We have carved out a niche position in the market. We are not just a supplier of UV systems, we are a partner who thinks along with the customer. Does their challenge require a minor adjustment to our system? Or even a completely custom-made system? Our approach here is: we take a good look at it together and simply do it.’’

Infection risks and contamination

Such a Yes we can-attitude will be greatly needed in the coming years, as the growing water scarcity and continuous deterioration of water quality demand strong innovation in water treatment. ‘’We see the infection pressure in our water increasing further, especially in the Netherlands,’’ says Kaspar. ‘’Humans and animals live too close to each other, and pesticides from agriculture and complex pollutants from the industry pose a significant risk to our health and nature. Moreover, the number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is growing due to pharmaceutical residues in our wastewater, which will have enormous consequences for public health. At the same time, there is increasing attention to water reuse, particularly in the industry, and chemical-free-purification (without substances like chlorine) of water. UV can contribute to making a difference in all these developments.’’

Opportunities for the future

Albert-Jan and Kaspar see many opportunities for ‘their’ company to make an impact on the UV market and society. Firstly, by growing as a company and bringing their high-quality disinfection systems to more and larger organizations. But also, of course, by continuing to pioneer, as they always have. And yes, that sometimes leads to a showerhead that didn’t make it, but it also results in innovations that can change the market. Even now.

Albert-Jan: ‘’We see many opportunities for our Advanox, for example. This innovative system uses advanced oxidation, a combination of UV light and hydrogen peroxide, and is capable of breaking down the most persistent micro-contaminants. Think of pharmaceutical residues, pesticides, or highly concerning substances from industrial waste streams. This makes it an interesting technology for many different sectors and thus an important new tool in our mission to work towards clean and safe water for everyone.’’