Ozone Science

What is Ozone?

Ozone is often referred to as nature's own purifier. It is evident at the seashore, in rain forests and after thunderstorms. We are all thoroughly aware of the protection the ozone layer affords us. Ozone also referred to as activated oxygen or trivalent oxygen is created naturally in our environment either through electricity, photosynthesis or by ultraviolet radiation from the sun. It makes up approximately 20% of the air we breathe everyday. Ozone is created when one of these forces cause Oxygen to split into two separate atoms. The freed atom then attaches itself to a O2 molecule, recombining to create Ozone. The word "Ozone" is derived from the Greek word "ozien" which means, "to smell". In high levels ozone is bluish in color, which is why the sky is blue. Ozone was discovered in the late 1800's and is classified as the second strongest oxidizer in the world. In has been used over the last century to purify water and eliminate a wide range of odors in as a wide range of applications. In the most effective types of product the ozone is generated by high-voltage corona discharge duplicating the way lightning creates it.

How Does Ozone Work To Eliminate Odors?

As ozone is created it floats freely in the air and water. By nature it is an unstable molecule and has a half-life of approximately 20 minutes. Shortly after ozone is created it begins to break back down. It will cast off the first ozone atom, which will recombine with either another oxygen atom, reverting back to simple Oxygen (O2), or it will recombine with another gaseous element forming an inert gas losing all of its odor characteristics. Picture a room full of smoke; it is the phenol gas that is released that is the basis of the odor. It is in the air and on the surface of all areas exposed to the smoke. When introduced to that environment, the ozone quickly breaks down as it combines with the phenol gas molecule destroying all odor characteristics.

What are the Benefits of Using Ozone?

Ozone is very effective in eliminating odors including tobacco smoke, human and pet odors, food odors, mold and mildew odors, garbage odors, renovation odors and much more. It is not a re-odorant. It totally destroys the offending gases that are the source of everything we smell. Unlike many other deodorizing methods, ozone actually searches out and destroys the problem gases. It will react with contaminants in the air, water, fabrics and on other surface of the walls and ceilings. Unlike other types of air purification systems, an ozone generator does not depend on the air passing through the machine to do its job. Ozone generators also produce large quantities of ions via the corona discharge. The ions cause the dust particles to agglomerate, and precipitate from the air leaving a cleaner environment.

Susan Duffy, President of Queenaire Technologies, briefly discusses the differences between Ozone and Hydroxyl Technology.  Hydroxyl Generators are safe to use in occupied spaces whereas Ozone Generators are safe to operate in unoccupied spaces.


What Is A Hydroxyl Radical? The hydroxyl radical, •OH, is the neutral form of the hydroxide ion (OH–). Hydroxyl radicals are diatomic molecules that are highly reactive and very short-lived with an average half-life of less than two seconds. The hydroxyl radical which was first discovered by scientists in 1963 is often referred to as the “detergent” of the troposphere, or the lowest part of the atmosphere, because it reacts with many pollutants and helps destroy them. It also has an important role in eliminating some greenhouse gases like methane and ozone.

Technology Behind Radicals. All hydroxyl generators currently used in the restoration industry incorporate some form of UV light in their process. UV light has three major spectrums: A, B and C. UVA is in the 315nm to 400nm wavelength and is what is commonly referred to as a “black light,” which makes white things glow and is considered safe for vision and skin contact. UVA lamps do not produce ozone. UVB is in the 280nm to 315nm wavelength. These are the lights in tanning salons. UVC is the 100nm to 280nm wavelength. These lamps are “germicidal” and can damage your eyes and skin. UVC lamps in the 185nm spectrum produce large amounts of ozone.

Some manufacturers use UVC lamps in the 185nm to 254nm wavelength with no catalyst whatsoever and claim to make hydroxyls. These units are nothing more that ultraviolet ozone generators and should be avoided. Other manufacturers use the same UVC 185nm to 254nm wavelength UV lamps but also incorporate reactive metals like titanium as a catalyst to create hydroxyls. These machines would probably make more hydroxyls then the first process described above but they also produce ozone and should be considered for use in unoccupied areas only. The third technology which was developed with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) utilizes UVC light in the 254nm wavelength to excite nano-sized particles of Titanium Dioxide to generate hydroxyl radicals.

This process has been deemed safe by NASA (it has been used in the space station) and also certified by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) as a Type 2 Medical Device that is approved for use in hospitals, including neonatal and baby wards.