Ozone is an incredibly powerful disinfectant against numerous types of bacteria and other organisms. It is many times more effective than even chlorine, one of the most widely used chemical disinfectants, especially in high traffic areas as in the mining industry.
Chlorine and other chemical disinfectants have been popular for their price/performance ratio. However, ozone has proven to be a highly effective and useful alternative. On its own, ozone is a potent yet environmentally friendly disinfectant agent that outshines other choices. When using treatments that combine ozone’s immediate effects with long-term disinfectants, the results and savings can be significant.
“Ozone doesn’t last long, and it leaves no chemical residual,” said Brendan van Wyk, Business Development Manager at Xylem. “If we were to disinfect a room with ozone, during the procedure it would be hazardous to be in that environment. But after about 20 minutes, it would be perfectly safe to re-enter the room, with little or no trace of any ozone being detected. This is because ozone (O3) is very unstable and reverts back to oxygen (O2).”
This view is backed by research, such as trials undertaken in 2014 by Campden BRI. It found that “ozone at appropriate concentrations and contact times has the potential to be an effective environmental disinfectant.” The trial also established that, when used correctly, ozone caused no adverse contact effects afterwards.
Ozone is brutal on organic material. Highly unstable, ozone attracts electrons from other compounds, oxidizing them and drastically reducing their integrity. In the case of biological targets such as bacteria, ozone attacks their cellular walls, causing the cells to rupture and ensuring there is no chance for the organism to build up an immunity to it, unlike other disinfectants. Ozone is very effective at oxidizing certain minerals as well – it’s used to remove manganese and iron out of drinking water, as an example.
Ozone manufacture can be done quite easily and reliably, within a small footprint. With no moving parts and few maintenance requirements, the system can be operated remotely with no human intervention. Ozone only needs power and air for manufacture, and the units can be custom designed to suit the specific project specifications. Van Wyk explained:
“Ozonated water is already used in places like abattoirs as wash water. This allows for maximum disinfection, but without a chemical residue that needs to be treated. It is easy to retrofit an ozone dosage system into an existing wash line. Clean technologies for rinsing and disinfection of milk bottles and soft drink bottles are already widely used. ”
Other examples of uses include cleaning animal enclosures and aquariums, rehabilitating smoke-damaged rooms, washing taxi ranks, and disinfecting laundry. Ozone-enriched water is mighty as a disinfectant – without leaving a chemical residual (as chlorine does) that could run into natural water systems through storm water channels and disrupt natural biological action. As mentioned earlier, ozone gas breaks down quickly, rendered into harmless oxygen that can enrich the local atmosphere and improve the chemical oxygen demand (COD) of wastewater.