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How Ozone is Made

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How Ozone is Made in Nature

Ozone (O3) is nature’s sanitizer. It is also an unstable molecule and takes a lot of energy to produce. In the stratosphere, ozone (O3) can be made by the interaction of UV light with molecular oxygen (O2). Molecular oxygen is inherently more stable than ozone, but there is so much UV light in the stratosphere that it creates an equilibrium level of about 5 parts per million (ppm), or about 0.0005% ozone.

Closer to home, lightning makes ozone. Lightning is a form of electricity. Energy from lightning splits oxygen gas (O2) into elemental oxygen (O). Most of that elemental oxygen recombines to form oxygen gas again. But enough recombines instead to make ozone (O3). That clean, fresh scent you get during a thunderstorm? Its ozone produced from lightning. The smell doesn’t last long unless there’s another lightning strike nearby. The ozone disperses and recombines back to molecular oxygen within minutes. Humans can smell ozone at concentrations as low as 10 parts per billion (0.000001%); that’s much greater sensitivity than you’ll get from many of the high-tech chemical analyzers that are used to quantify ozone.

How Electricity Makes Aqueous Ozone

An electric aqueous ozone generator uses a controlled source of electricity to do the chemistry of converting water (H2O) to ozone (O3). The secret ingredient is a solid lab-grown diamond, which functions as a sturdy scaffold for electronically active ions. 

We’ll start with a reminder of a few terms from electronics. Electricity is simply the flow of electrons from one place to another; it can be used to do work. A semiconductor is a material that allows electron flow, but only moderately. A semiconductor also acts as a moderate resistor, resistors inhibit the flow of electrons. Another way to say this is that resistors are nonconductive. Voltage is the force that causes electrons to move; current is the rate at which they move. Voltage and current are related but not the same thing. 

Aqueous Ozone and Diamond

Typical electronic chips are made of silicon because silicon acts as a semiconductor; it does reasonably well at both conducting and resisting electricity. To make aqueous ozone, the silicon is replaced with a diamond electrode. Diamond is made of carbon, which is similar to silicon in some ways. However, diamond adds durability and resistance. Nonconductive materials such as diamond prevent electrons from flowing too soon in an electronic circuit. 

The Diamond Advantage 

The nonconductive properties of diamond are an advantage in making aqueous ozone by electricity. The diamond prevents current from flowing before a certain voltage threshold is reached. The technical term is that diamond causes an activation overpotential. What this means is that the diamond functions as a gate to prevent current from flowing until there is enough to allow formation of ozone (O3), which takes more energy than formation of oxygen gas (O2), from water. Moreover, the electronics are configured to generate a consistent aqueous ozone level, at about 1 part per million (0.0001%). This level is sufficient to kill at least 99.9% of the most common pathogens in 30 seconds. 

Using electricity to generate aqueous ozone ensures that the right amount of the right material gets made at the right time – on demand.

Diamond-Powered Ozone with Enozo

Using electricity to make ozone isn’t new; it’s how nature does it. By harnessing the power of nature in the form of diamond, water, and electricity, Enozo puts the sanitizing power of nature in your hands. 

The EnozoPRO™ aqueous ozone spray bottle is a two-step cleaner and sanitizer for hard, non-porous (non-food contact and food contact) surfaces. Ozone is Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) for use directly on food by the U.S. FDA. Spray and wipe to clean; spray and either wipe after 30 seconds OR leave to air dry. Enozo’s AO is effective as a sanitizer after 30 seconds and can be used on any surface that can be cleaned with water. It’s a potent antimicrobial that doesn’t stick around to pose a danger to humans, pets, plants, or anything that can think for itself. 

Author | Xu Simon, PhD, MBA

Author | Xu Simon, PhD, MBA

Enozo Chief Technology Officer