By Sam Voas
Nicholas Knudsen has no use for noxious cleaning chemicals during these times of COVID-19.
He has his lights.
“You don’t have to wear a mask in here. This is one of the most sterile environments in the city,” said Knudsen, founder of South Tempe-based sanitation company Purification, LLC.
Indeed, there is no nostril-stinging aroma of Clorox in his facility.
Knudsen founded Purification, 1007 E. Warner Road, Suite 109, in March of last year when the pandemic hit. Since then, the company has established itself as a leading innovator in ultraviolet-light sterilization technology.
According to his account, the technology uses radiation from intense ultraviolet light to destroy virtually any pathogen that it touches, in the air or on a surface, including coronavirus, a claim supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency.
During the past year, several Valley businesses have signed on for Purification’s cutting-edge services, including popular Tempe bar and restaurant The Porch.
Knudsen argues that UVC sanitation is more effective than traditional, chemical sanitation methods. A thorough cleaning using standard germ-killing chemicals is time-consuming and labor-intensive. UVC light, however, is said to sanitize an entire room with the flick of a switch, as it instantaneously kills any micro-organism it touches, including airborne pathogens.
“I have yet to find something it doesn’t kill,” Knudsen said.
If that makes UVC light sound dangerous, that’s because it can be.
Just as radiation from UVC light destroys harmful bacteria and viruses, it also can cause severe damage to human tissue, which can lead to serious health conditions, including cancer. However, Knudsen assures that his products are designed to shield his customers from potentially hazardous radiation and pose no safety risk for consumers.
Unfortunately, Knudsen cannot say the same for his own safety.
Though he takes proper precautions to protect himself — wearing a hazmat suit and protective eye-wear — he believes that some amount of accidental exposure is unavoidable when working closely with UVC light.
“I tend to burn myself pretty often, zap my eyes pretty often,” he said. “But I don’t care if I’m blind and dying as long as I’m able to save a few people. I want people to stand around at my funeral and say, ‘He did whatever it took to try and make a difference in the world, to try and make it safer for people.’”
Knudsen is clear about his motivations: Above all else, he wants his upstart business to be seen as a philanthropic entity, a desire that motivated him to register Purification as a tax exempt 501c(3) charitable organization. His charitable ambitions extend well beyond Tempe and the pandemic. He imagines a world where UVC sterilization technology is ubiquitous.
“I hope by 2025, (UVC technology) will be implemented in every international airport in the world,” he said. “I want this in every school. I want this in every day care. I want this in every old-folks’ facility.
“I basically want to try to save the world with this technology.”
In the darkness of the pandemic, Nicholas Knudsen envisions a brighter, healthier future for humanity.