Ozone is an exceptional sanitizer, attacking bacteria, viruses, cysts, and other dangerous water contaminants. If your water needs complete and thorough disinfection, you may want to consider a home ozone generator system. Ozone drinking water treatment is extremely effective, and it leaves behind no chemical byproducts or residue that could cause a bad taste or smell.
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While home ozone generators are less common than other types of disinfection and treatment systems, ozone is actually the most powerful oxidizer available commercially. When used in water, ozone destroys breaks down the cell membranes of many organic contaminants, making it a powerful disinfectant and sanitizer. Although it’s extremely effective, ozone generating systems cost more than chlorine, which is why that chemical is more commonly used for water treatment.
Ozone (O3) is a naturally occurring molecule made up of three oxygen atoms. Most people are familiar with the “ozone layer, ” part of the atmosphere where high concentrations of this gas are found. Ozone in the atmosphere blocks certain wavelengths of sunlight, helping to protect life on Earth. Lower in the atmosphere, ozone can combine with certain hydrocarbons in the air, causing smog.
The same processes that help create smog are actually what allows ozone to disinfect water. This is a process called oxidation, which means that the oxidizer (in this case, ozone) causes an atom, ion, or molecule to lose one electron. When this happens, it changes both the oxidizing agent and the other substance into something new. As an example, iron that is dissolved in water is called ferrous iron (Fe2+), and it cannot be easily removed. When it’s oxidized, the ferrous iron becomes ferric iron (Fe3+), which can be filtered out.
When organic molecules are exposed to ozone, this oxidizing agent breaks open the cell walls, helping to destroy them. This makes ozone drinking water treatment effective against bacteria and viruses, but it also makes the gas itself an irritant to people and animals, and it can be unhealthy at high levels. The ozone that is generated by a home ozone generator is not released into the air, so it typically does not pose any risk to people in the vicinity.
If ozone is such a great oxidizer and disinfectant, you may be asking, why isn’t it more widely used in water treatment? Ozone purification is actually quite common on a commercial and municipal level, but it does have some limitations. Ozone is a very unstable molecule – as an oxidizer, it wants to grab that extra electron and change forms. This means that it won’t survive the trip from the water treatment plant through the pipes to your home.
A home ozone generator solves this problem by producing the ozone right where it’s needed. The system usually starts with an oxygen concentrator, which pulls in air from the room and separates out the oxygen (O2) from the other molecules. Next, a small electric current is used to split the O2 molecules, which then recombine to form ozone (O3). This current is most commonly generated through the corona discharge method, which is very cost effective and does not require particularly high concentrations of oxygen. Ultraviolet (UV) light can also be used to create ozone, but this method usually requires a longer processing time and creates ozone in lower concentrations.
Once the ozone is generated, it needs to be mixed into the water so that it can successfully oxidize any contaminants. This is typically done in a contact tank, where the ozone is given enough time to do its job effectively. Any oxidized contaminants can then be filtered out of the water, leaving clean, purified water for use in your home. The ozone created by the home ozone generator turns into regular oxygen (O2) after it has been used, so there are no chemical residues to worry about.