What is Ozone?

What is Ozone?

Ozone is a gas that is naturally present in our atmosphere.  It was first identified in  laboratory experiments in 1839 and has the chemical formula O3 because an ozone molecule has three oxygen atoms attached to it.

The word ozone means “to smell.”  Ozone has a distinctive smell that allows it to be detected even at very low amounts. Electrical discharges, such as the corona discharge method used in ozone generators, are used to produce ozone for industrial processes such as air and water purification.

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Making ozone

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When the oxygen (O2) that is all around us rises to the upper atmosphere, and is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, that oxygen is naturally turned into ozone (O3). The new ozone molecules are heavier than air and they fall back to earth. This is the ozone that naturally purifies our air and water.  As the ozone (O3) re-enters the lower atmosphere it quickly gives up one atom of oxygen, which attaches itself to pollutants or contaminants and oxidizes them.  Once the ozone has performed this critical purification task, all that remains is oxygen (O2), one of the most necessary elements to sustain life on Earth.

Ozone also occurs commonly in nature as a result of lightning strikes during thunderstorms.  The “fresh, clean, spring rain ” smell that we notice after a storm results from natures creation of ozone.
Ozone is also created by waterfalls and the surf at the beach.
Because it is made up entirely of oxygen, ozone is sometimes called “activated oxygen”.

Ozone is nature’s way of purifying the air we breathe and is one of the most powerful sterilants in the world.  Its function is to destroy bacteria, viruses, spores and odors.

The life cycle of ozone is: generation, oxidation, return to oxygen.
Ozone cannot be stored or transported because of its unstable tendency to break down quickly, so ozone must be generated on site.