What is Ozone, and how does it work?

Using Ozone for Odour Control and Germicidal Applications

ozone_moleculeoxygen_moleculeWhat most of us would refer to as ‘oxygen’, is the diatomic oxygen (O2) which we breath every day to give us life. Ozone is created from this O2 and is simply a molecule which consists of 3 atoms of Oxygen, or O3. This extra oxygen atom makes Ozone an extremely effective deodorising and germicidal agent! Ozone has long been used for treatment of air and drinking water supplies. Since the year 2000 Ozone has also had FDA approval for use as an antimicrobial in food processing.

How does ozone provide germ and odour control?

When Ozone comes into contact with a pollutant, such as an odour molecule, pathogen, virus etc, it deposits its third oxygen atom onto the pollutant, destroying it by a processes called ‘Oxidation’. Unlike some deodorising methods, Ozone does not mask odours – instead the odour molecule is physically destroyed.

Because Ozone has a relatively short half-life (meaning it will revert back into regular O2 quite quickly), it cannot be stored and instead must be created continually on site. In a practical sense, the Ozone in a garbage system is continuously coming into contact with odour molecules, bacteria and other pollutants on the surface of the the garbage bins, walls, chute and compactor etc. As the Ozone comes into contact with these pollutants, it oxides them and turns back into regular O2, as depicted below:

ozone_oxidation_example_1ozone_oxidation_example_2
STEP 1: Ozone (O3) deposits its third Oxygen atom onto the pathogen, physically destroying it by a process called ‘Oxidation’STEP 2: The pathogen is destroyed, and during the process the Ozone (O3) has lost its third oxygen atom, reverting the Ozone back into regular Oxygen (O2).

We usually find that garbage odours are significantly reduced or eliminated within about 15-30 minutes of installing our Garbage Doctor® systems.

How is Ozone created?

Ozone is created naturally in our environment by the suns UV rays and also during lightning storms. You may not realise it, but you are breathing Ozone every day of your life! These same methods are replicated in Ozone generators to turn a small percentage of the oxygen which is in the ambient air, into Ozone. Once the Ozone is created, it is dispersed into targeted areas; as close as possible to the source of the odours and pathogens/viruses etc.

All of our Garbage Doctor® systems use our proprietary UV Si-Zone® process to create Ozone. This method has many advantages for garbage applications, but the primary reason is that there are no nitrogen oxide by-products when Ozone is created by ultraviolet light. The other common method of creating Ozone is by simulating the way nature creates Ozone during a lightning storm – this is called ‘corona discharge’. The corona discharge method has many advantages for some applications, however because it creates nitrogen oxide by-products, it is not very suitable for use around steel, especially in humid climates. This is because the nitrogen by-products can mix with moisture to create a corrosive solution called nitric acid – which is not good for your garbage chute or compactor!