With many thanks to Drs. Weil and Egersdorfer.
Ozone is made from oxygen, which makes up water, air, earth and is at all levels a part of life. As we need oxygen to breathe and live, oxygen is more a part of our life than anything. Remember, oxygen is in water we need to live, and water comprises 85% of our body. We are walking ozonators. Ozone can be applied to clean the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, or kill the viruses that harm us. It is also being applied to many industrial applications.
What is Ozone?
When most people think of ozone, they picture the layer high in the earth’s outer atmosphere that protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, but this bluish gas, which sometimes can be detected as a fresh smell after a thunderstorm, is actually a valuable tool with a variety of down to earth uses.
Ozone gas (03) is a naturally occurring tri-atomic form of oxygen (02) that is formed as sunlight passes through the atmosphere or when streaks through the air. It can be generated artificially by passing high voltage electricity through oxygenated air (corona discharge), causing oxygen to break apart and recombine in the tri-atomic form. Because oxygen naturally seeks its normal state, ozone is an unstable, highly reactive form of the gas. Ozone is effective as a disinfectant at relatively low concentrations and does not leave toxic by products similar to those related to chlorination.
Some quick ozone facts:
Ozone is “active oxygen” – an ozone molecule consisting of three oxygen atoms.
Ozone is healthy and environmentally safe.
Ozone is created in nature from oxygen in the air by ultraviolet rays of the sun or by the corona or electrical discharge during a lightning storm.
The Ozone layer in the atmosphere protects the earth from deadly radiation and there is a small amount of ozone in the air we breathe.
Ozone has a clean, fresh scent often noticed after a rainstorm.
As an oxidizer, ozone is 500 times as powerful as chlorine and 3,000 times as fast at killing bacteria and other microbes.
Ozone is a powerful oxidiser and oxidises hydrogen sulphides, iron, manganese and most chlorinated hydrocarbons and eliminates soaps and oils.
Ozone is a natural purifier and destroys bacteria, viruses, cysts, yeasts, moulds and mildew and fungus.
Ozone is a by product of oxygen, it does not leave any chemical taste or smell, it will not cause any personal discomfort or irritation.
Ozone is the alternative water purifier to traditional chemicals such as chlorine and bromine and keeps the water fresh, clean and sparkling clear
Ozone is not a carcinogen (like the chlorine and chloramines formed in your spa with chlorine use) and will not irritate, dry out or leave a chemical film on your skin; or damage and discolour your hair
The first commercial use of ozone was in a municipal water system in 1906. Ozone is now used by a wide variety of industries worldwide, including wastewater plants, water parks, zoos, aquariums, food manufacturing and water bottling as well as commercial and residential swimming pools and spa pools.
The largest use of ozone is in the preparation of pharmaceuticals, synthetic lubricants, and many other commercially useful organic compounds, where it is used to sever carbon-carbon bonds. It can also be used for bleaching substances and for killing microorganisms in air and water sources. Many municipal drinking water systems kill bacteria with ozone instead of the more common chlorine. Ozone has a very high oxidation potential. Ozone does not form organochlorine compounds, nor does it remain in the water after treatment. Where electrical power is abundant, ozone is a cost-effective method of treating water, since it is produced on demand and does not require transportation and storage of hazardous chemicals. Once it has decayed, it leaves no taste or odor in drinking water. Low levels of ozone are of disinfectant use in residential homes, having substantial effect on airborne pathogens.
Industrially, ozone is used to:
• Disinfect laundry in hospitals, food factories, care homes etc;
• Disinfect water in place of chlorine;
• Purify the air in smokers rooms in the hotel industry;
• Deodorize air and objects, such as after a fire. This process is extensively used in fabric restoration;
• Kill bacteria on food or on contact surfaces;
• Sanitize swimming pools and spas;
• Kill insects in stored grain;
• Scrub yeast and mold spores from the air in food processing plants;
• Wash fresh fruits and vegetables to kill yeast, mold and bacteria;
• Chemically attack contaminants in water (iron, arsenic, hydrogen sulfide, nitrites, and complex organics lumped together as “colour”);
• Provide an aid to flocculation (agglomeration of molecules, which aids in filtration, where the iron and arsenic are removed); Manufacture chemical compounds via chemical synthesis;
• Clean and bleach fabrics (the former use is utilized in fabric restoration; the latter use is patented);
• Assist in processing plastics to allow adhesion of inks;
• Age rubber samples to determine the useful life of a batch of rubber;
• Eradicate water borne parasites such as Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium in surface water treatment plants.
For more than a centruy, ozone has been used in Europe for purifying drinking water and is currently used in the United States for purifying bottled water and decontaminating cooling towers. The city of Los Angeles currently uses ozone to purify its water supply.
Ozone is a reagent in many organic reactions in the laboratory and in industry. Ozonolysis is the cleavage of an alkene to carbonyl compounds.
Many hospitals in the U.S. and around the world use large ozone generators to decontaminate operating rooms between surgeries. The rooms are cleaned and then sealed airtight before being filled with ozone which effectively kills or neutralizes all remaining bacteria.
Ozone is used as an alternative to chlorine or chlorine dioxide in the bleaching of wood pulp. It is often used in conjunction with oxygen and hydrogen peroxide to eliminate the need for chlorine-containing compounds in the manufacture of high-quality, white paper.
Ozone can be used to detoxify cyanide wastes (for example from gold and silver mining) by oxidizing cyanide to cyanate and eventually to carbon dioxide.
Aquazone has also manufactured customised high output ozone generators for the use disinfecting the inside of wine barrels ready to be filled.
Devices generating high levels of ozone, some of which use ionization, are used to sanitize and deodorize uninhabited buildings, rooms, ductwork, woodsheds, boats and other vehicles.
Air purifyers emit low levels of ozone. This kind of air purifier imitates nature’s way of purifying the air without filters and to sanitize both it and household surfaces.
Ozonated water is used to launder clothes and to sanitise food, drinking water, and surfaces in the home.
Ozone can be used to remove pestide residues from fruits and vegetables.
Ozone is used in home swimming pools and spa pools to kill bacteria in the water and to reduce the amount of chlorine or bromine required by reactivating them to their free state. Aquazone ozone generators produce ozone by method of corona discharge and is injected into the water.
Ozone is also widely used in treatment of water in aquariums and fish ponds. Its use can minimize bacterial growth, control parasites, and eliminate transmission of some diseases. There are many dissolved organics that can discolor your water, ozone will oxidize these and produce water that is crystal clear.
To summarize the list, the following are categories of contaminants that can all be treated with ozone:
• Bacteria—all known
• Fungi and yeast—all known
• Protozoa (including parasites and amoebae)—all known.
• Its effectiveness against Cryptosporidium has some limitations, yet is still the most effective of all known sanitation agents for this organism.
In general, ozone is used commercially to:
• Disinfect water before it is bottled
• Kill bacteria, yeast and protozoa on food-contact surfaces such as fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, legumes, and all animal meats
• Kill yeast and mold spores that float in the air in food processing plants
• Chemically attack (oxidize) impurities in water such as iron, arsenic, hydrogen sulfide, nitrites and organic clumps
• Oxidize and degrade many organic pollutants including pesticides, herbicides and other persistent environmental chemicals as explained below.
In order to disinfect organisms, ozone must come in physical contact with them. But it only takes ozone a few seconds of contact time to destroy pathogens. In fact, no pathogen can survive 1.5 milligrams of ozone per liter for 5 minutes at normal drinking water pH and temperatures.
Consider how many uses ozone has on fruits and vegetables. It is ideal for cleaning and sanitizing fresh produce directly plus it can be sprayed on all the equipment and surfaces where foods are packaged or processed. It can then be sprayed on walls and floors of storage areas and active processing areas to kill and remove bacteria or other organic matter. And because ozone has such a short half-life it does not build up on surfaces the way detergents can if they are not removed by proper rinsing. Ozone air is even used to blow dry food products to eliminate cross-contamination in the air, and ozone refrigeration is used to eliminate mold build-up.
Another important consideration is the preservation of fresh produce. Studies of fruits and vegetables indicate that cooling fruits and vegetables as soon as possible after harvest is a critical factor to extending product shelf life. So by adding ozone to the chilled air and water applied to fruits or vegetables after harvest, both decontamination and cooling can occur in one step.
Fortunately, ozone does not appear to injure vegetable and fruit tissues during contact with them. Several fresh-cut processors now equipped with ozone currently have preliminary results indicating that bacterial counts are lower as compared to chlorinated systems. Produce such as shredded lettuce exhibits a longer shelf life with less browning when washed with ozone than when chlorine is used, and has a noticeably better flavor.
Ozone is also ideal for cleaning and sanitizing beef, pork, poultry, seafood and other fish directly, as well as all the equipment and surfaces where they are packaged or processed. Vacuum packaging, using ozone gas is then used to ensure decontamination into the package.
Some additional benefits of ozone in the food preparation industry are that it:
• Extends the shelf life of food products
• Is much safer for employees than any conventional chemicals
• Eliminates all chemical usage and is chemical-free, without the chemical by-products of chlorination
• Eliminates the use of hot water and conventional sanitizer
• Is generated on site, thus eliminating the transporting, storing and handling of otherwise hazardous materials
• Is very inexpensive to produce once a generator is in use
• Permits recycling of wastewater