Brad Hunter, P.Eng.
Ozone is triatomic oxygen. As a gas it is blue;
both liquid ozone (-112 C) and solid ozone (-193 C) are a deep
blue color. It is this blue ozone in the atmosphere that causes
the sky to be blue. At altitudes from 25-30 km ozone is created
by a portion of the sun's ultraviolet spectrum. It exists as a
gas in concentrations of 10-20 parts per million (ppm). In these
concentrations, ozone is a powerful absorber of a narrow portion
of the sun's ultraviolet radiation.
At ground level, ozone exists in a greatly diluted state and is
always present in minute quantities (.001-.003 ppm) which we breathe
in. It does not become an irritant until levels above .1 ppm are
exceeded for over eight hours. Below those levels there have never
been any permanent detrimental effects from inhaling it.
Ozone is created naturally by crashing surf, whitewater rapids,
and lightning storms.
Recently, ozone has come to public attention as an alleged pollutant
in smog. In order to measure hydrocarbon air pollution, an index
is required. High levels of hydrocarbons have a corresponding
ozone level (since the ozone is created from, and attracted to,
the pollutants), so by measuring the ozone, scientists can measure
indirectly how bad the pollution is. What is not mentioned is
that the ozone molecule lasts for a maximum of 20 minutes, and
usually much less, as it tirelessly eats up the hydrocarbon pollution
by oxidizing it. The harmful constituents of smog: carbon monoxide,
benzene, chlorides, sulphur dioxide, and nitric oxide are swiftly
oxidized on contact by ozone, thus cleaning the air.
Ozone has long been internationally recognized as the most powerful
oxidant next to hydroxyl, which is a mixture of ozone with hydrogen
peroxide. Ozone is used in over 30 different industries as an
industrial oxidizer and sterilant. Existing applications include:
synthetic fibers, chemicals, jet lubricants, air scrubbing for
clean rooms, treatment of industrial wastes, potable water treatment,
bottling plants, sewage treatment, aquaculture, aquarium sanitation,
food preservation, sterilization of containers, deodorization,
pulpwood bleaching, metal extraction, etc.
Ozone's most well known use is in water treatment as a primary
stage disinfectant because of its bactericidal and virucidal efficacy.
Both the EPA and the FDA acknowledge ozone's ability to oxidize
99.9992% of all waterborne pathogens.
Ozone has been used for human health since 1870, and is presently
employed in 24 countries. Its widest use is in Germany, where
over 7000 doctors have treated more than 12,000,000 people since
WW II. In the United States, the FDA has not allowed testing of
ozone, and, since 1933, has actively persecuted physicians who
use it. Nevertheless, more and more doctors are turning to ozone
therapy as a crucial tool for the treatment of serious diseases.
In fourteen states, Alaska, Washington, Colorado, Oklahoma, New
Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, New York, Texas, Georgia, Ohio,
Minnesota, Florida and California, physicians are now able to
employ any therapeutic technique, including ozone, without fear
of persecution. In Dr. H.E. Sartori's recent book, the multiple
uses of ozone for human health, dentistry, animal health and industrial
uses are well covered. Tragically, Dr. Sartori himself was recently
jailed for administering ozone in Virginia.
There are three technologies utilized for the generation of ozone:
Ultraviolet light in the 180-190 nanometer
wavelength generates ozone from ambient air without producing nitric
oxide compounds. But UV cannot generate the concentrations necessary
for medical or industrial applications, even with oxygen feed. Typically,
UV systems produce only 1-3 ug/ml, sufficient only for air purification
and cleaning of water in small quantities. UV lamps degrade quickly
and are expensive to replace.
- Ultraviolet light
- Corona discharge
- Cold plasma.
Corona discharge generates high concentrations of ozone, up to 150
ug/ml, required for industrial applications. If it is properly engineered
and used in conjunction with an air dryer, it may be used with ambient
air. It is the most cost effective way to produce large quantities
of ozone, but reliability is always a problem. An improved variation
is called dual dielectric, used for medical purposes, but long term
reliability is again problematic, due to shorting from the cathode
to the metal anode.
Cold plasma is a technique invented by Nikola Tesla whereby noble
gases are enclosed in a glass vacuum tube and high voltage is applied.
This is where the future lies for medical applications, because
a clean flow of 50 ug/ml is obtainable from this technology with
very long-term reliability. The original Tesla generators of the
1920s still operate perfectly today.
Different uses of ozone require different concentrations to obtain
desired results. UV generated ozone is adequate for small pools,
but larger pools, water parks and municipal water treatment require
corona discharge to generate large quantities of ozone. It is important
to deal with people who are familiar with the specific applications
of ozone in order that systems are designed to address the problem
of each individual installation.
Water engineers use a value called CT (concentration x time) to
measure the amount of work done by an oxidant. It is important to
consider the time factor when using ozone, especially when there
is a large amount of undesirable material to be oxidized. Insufficient
time of contact or too low a concentration will produce incomplete
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