Ozone: one molecule, thousands applications
From industrial systems to domestic use
Ozone has a wide range of uses, from industrial to domestic ones.
It is a deeply versatile molecule, but unstable and difficult to stock. Essential for life on Earth thanks to its power to absorb part of the Sun’s radiation, it’s present in the so-called “ozonesphere” , a large stratum of the atmosphere 15-35 km from the soil.
Due to its properties, it must be produced right at the moment of use. In nature, it is made from oxygen molecules exposed to electric shocks, like lightning. We produce it in the same way, with machines called “ozone generators”.
The largest use of ozone is in the preparation of pharmaceuticals, synthetic lubricants.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.
Industrially, ozone is used to:
- Disinfect laundry in hospitals, food factories, care homes etc
- Disinfect water in place of chlorine
- 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 infabric restoration; the latter use is patented)
- Act as an antichlor in chlorine-based bleaching
- 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.
Many hospitals 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.
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