What is Ozone and how does it work?

What 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 deodorisation 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:

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 reasons are; that there are no nitrogen oxide by-products when Ozone is created by ultraviolet light, and they have stable ozone production regardless of humidity levels.

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!

Ultraviolet Ozone generators create Ozone by replicating the suns UV rays.

Corona Discharge Ozone generators create Ozone by replicating an electrical spark, similiar to lightning.

Is Ozone Safe?

Yes, the way in which we use Ozone for garbage applications is safe, and in compliance with Safe Work Australia standards. In Australia, we have a residual Ozone exposure level of 0.1ppm in public areas. For garbage applications, this can be achieved by targeting the Ozone as close as possible to the source of the odours (which is generally the garbage bins, compactor, chute, etc) and having many small Ozone dispersion points – as opposed to having the Ozone entering the room at just one point.

The Garbage Doctor® equipment has been purpose built and designed specifically for garbage odour and germ control applications. The way the equipment is installed plays an important factor on why such fantastic results can be achieved using very little residual Ozone into public spaces.

A helpful analogy for using Ozone in your refuse chute can be the comparison of Chlorine in your swimming pool; used correctly it is extremely beneficial, hygienic and has an enormous amount of benefits compared to not using Chlorine – but that doesn’t mean you should put many times the recommended dosage into your pool ! The same applies to Ozone in refuse systems.

A garbage system is literally a dumping ground for discarded waste by the buildings residents. The methods of odour control used for residential applications (such as venting, HEPA filtration, etc) are not possible in these environments. 

How do Ozone 'shock treatments' differ to using Ozone for garbage odour control?

The Garbage Doctor® systems are designed for 24/7/365 operation of relatively low levels of Ozone – targeted to the originating odour sources. In comparison, an Ozone shock treatment uses extremely high output equipment for a short period of time (usually 1 -24 hours) at many times the safe Ozone standards for occupied areas.

Ozone shock treatments are commonly used in fire restoration, crime scene cleanup, mould remediation, etc. During a shock treatment, Ozone levels will generally be in the order of 5-10ppm within the treated space. At those levels (which are 50-100 times the human occupied levels), people should not be entering the areas until the Ozone has either; reverted back to diatomic Oxygen (O2) – which occurs naturally, the Ozone has been vented safely into the atmosphere, or required PPE is in place.

We do not provide equipment for Ozone shock treatments or for residential use.

The Garbage Doctor® products are proudly designed and built in Australia.