Ozone is an excellent technology for treating water on Whidbey.
What is Ozone?
We can smell ozone in the air during lightning storms, when we make static electricity, and any time there is a large electrical spark. There are books on ozone therapy, and some practices actually prescribe removing blood, ozonating it, and reinjecting it into the body. Ozone air purification is excellent for killing any air-born bacteria, mold, smoke, and other pollutants. For water purification, ozone oxidizes dissolved minerals; when minerals are oxidized they clump together into larger particles that can be filtered out.
Characteristics of Ozone
Ozone starts out as O9, which has a half-life that rapidly breaks down to O8, O7, O6, down to O3. As O3 it is highly caustic and corrosive, especially when combined with water. Consequently, ozone in copper pipes and galvanized metal pipes will actually eat away the pipes and the fittings. Stainless steel parts, special ozone-resistant fittings, and plastic pipes are the best ways to plumb for ozone. High levels of ozone in the air can cause immune-deficiency disorders. Ozone above certain levels will kill lung cells. While ozone air purifiers are excellent for killing smoke and other strong odors, continuous breathing of ozone is not safe.
Ozone is so strong that it will kill bacteria and other living cells in a split second. Ozone is up to 2500 times more powerful a disinfectant than chlorine, able to destroy cysts, bacteria and fungus instantly (compared to 30-60 minutes with chlorine) and destroys bio-films better than chlorine. Though ozone does not remove manganese or iron from water, it does oxidize these metals to facilitate their removal by flocculating them into larger particles that can be filtered out through the media.
Chlorine, on the other hand, can take up to an hour to penetrate the cell wall of a bacteria.
On the other hand, chlorine is residual and remains in the water whether it is active or inert, which means that it is ingested, it contacts and dries out the skin, and in continued doses it is a known carcinogen. Conversely, ozone is not residual. As soon as it contacts the air it is gone. The O3 breaks down to O1 and H2O — oxygen and water, both of which are harmless and helpful.
Ozone can be created in one of two ways: with ultra violet radiation, or with an electrical charge.
Ultra-violet ozone generators have two drawbacks: (1) the ozone created is weaker than that made by an electrical charge, and (2) the UV bulb can burn out and will not produce any ozone again until it is replaced. The advantage of UV generation is that it costs less.
Corona generation of ozone is by far the most powerful and consistent form. Two electrodes create a high-voltage electrical arc, which creates a large amount of ozone. This ozone gas is then either pushed into the water with a special ozone-resistant pump, or sucked into the water with a plastic venturi.
Ozone Water Purification
Ozone is one of the best ways to eliminate iron from water. Because iron is dissolved in the water, it can pass through any number of filters without being removed. In order to get the iron out, it must be made into larger particles or clumps: it must be flocculated. Essentially by oxidizing the dissolved mineral, it in a sense “rusts,” turning into larger particles that can be filtered out. The ozone gas is then flushed through a drain to the outdoors, so no odors enter the building.
Highly effective at removing iron, manganese, sulfur, bacteria, particulates
Infrequent maintenance (every 6 months-1 year)
Pump makes a noise
Periodic maintenance and replacement costs
Will not soften water; additional systems may need to be added
Older ozone system
New extra-powerful ozone system
Ozone systems with water softeners added