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What is Ozone

Release time:2015-12-7Clicks:3564

Ozone is an inorganic molecule with the chemical formula O2. It is a pale blue gas with a distinctively pungent smell. It is an allotrope of oxygen that is much less stable than the diatomic allotrope O2, breaking down in the lower atmosphere to normal dioxygen. Ozone is formed from dioxygen by the action of ultraviolet light and also atmospheric electrical discharges, and is present in low concentrations throughout the Earth's atmosphere. In total, ozone makes up only 0.6ppm of the atmosphere.

Ozone's odor is sharp, reminiscent of chlorine, and detectable by many people at concentrations of as little as 10ppb in air. Ozone's O3 formula was determined in 1865. The molecule was later proven to have a bent structure and to be diamagnetic. In standard conditions, ozone is a pale blue gas that condenses at progressively cryogenic temperatures to a dark blu liquide and finally a violet-black solid. Ozone's instability with regard to more common dioxygen is such that both concentrated gas and liquid ozone may decompose explosively. It is therefore used commercially only in low concentrations.

Ozone is a powerful oxidizing agent, far stronger than O2. It is also unstable at high concentrations, decaying to ordinary diatomic oxygen. It has a varying length half-life (meaning half as concentrated, or half-depleted), depending upon atmospheric conditions (temperature, humidity, and air movement).

Ozone is a powerful oxidant and has many industrial and consumer applications related to oxidation. This same high oxidizing potential, however, causes ozone to damage mucus and respiratory tissues in animals, and also tissues in plants, above concentrations of about 100 ppb. This makes ozone a potent respiratory hazard and pollutant near ground level. However, the so-called ozone layer is beneficial, preventing damaging ultraviolet light from reaching the Earth's surface, to the benefit of both plants and animals.

Ozone often forms in nature under conditions where O2 will not react. Ozone used in industry is measured in μmol/mol (ppm, parts per million), nmol/mol (ppb, parts per billion), μg/m3, mg/h (milligrams per hour) or weight percent. The regime of applied concentrations ranges from 1 to 5% in air and from 6 to 14% in oxygen for older generation methods. New electrolytic methods can achieve up 20 to 30% dissolved ozone concentrations in output water.


Ozone cannot be stored and transported like other industrial gases (because it quickly decays into diatomic oxygen) and must therefore be produced on site. Temperature and humidity plays a large role in how much ozone is being produced using traditional generation methods such as corona discharge and ultraviolet light.

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