Discovering the Secret Ingredient

Companies can cut costs and enjoy other benefits by using ozone

It’s getting increasingly difficult to keep track of all the new and potentially lucrative opportunities currently available to today’s water industry professionals. While industries are demanding more from their water, governments are demanding tighter restrictions on the way water can be used and discharged. That’s where ozone comes in.

With the ever-increasing demand for an effective alternative to chlorine and harsher chemicals has come an increased demand for ozone and ozone-related research. While good data is plentiful, it usually reads like the latest journal of the International Ozone Association—very interesting to those in the ozone business, but not the easiest thing to show a prospective customer.

What customers want are real-world examples of ozone being used in their industries, preferably by their biggest competitors. Unfortunately, looking for examples of successful ozone applications can be like trying to get an old family recipe; they want you to know how good it is, but not how to make it yourself.

That’s the problem with finding marketable examples of ozone in many industrial applications; ozone is the “secret ingredient” that can give a competitor the edge. Not all companies using ozone are willing to go on the record and announce that the secret to their longer shelf life is the ozone they use in their processing water.

The average water professional probably would be surprised to learn ozone is now being utilized in a number of remarkable and interesting places. I would like to highlight just one of the many uses of ozone that you may not be familiar with. Most of us involved with the water industry know ozone is used to sanitize bottled-water, but did you know it’s also used in many commercial laundry systems?

By using ozone and cold water instead of more costly chemicals and hot water, companies can realize substantial savings. Ozone laundry systems also deliver a higher “bug-kill” than conventional laundry systems. For this reason alone, many hospitals and nursing homes have turned to ozone for their institutional laundry needs. Hotels and cruise ships are also switching to ozone, not just for the energy savings, but also to save valuable space. Ozone is generated on-site and used immediately, thereby reducing the space needed for chemical storage, a big plus for the typically cramped laundry room. Additional savings are realized through the reduction of the regulatory paperwork required by EPA and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Federal, state and local regulations for the storage and handling of carcinogenic chemicals are being enforced with increased regularity.

Consider the following case study involving the Pine Haven County Home, a 120-bed nursing home facility in Philmont, N.Y. They claim to have reduced heating and water costs by 65% and chemical costs by 50% since installing a new ozone system at their on-premises laundry facility. Much of the savings in the ozone-based laundry operation stems from reducing wash temperatures from 180°F to a range of 50 to 60°F, and slashing the number of laundry chemicals used from 11 to just two. In addition to the cost savings, goods laundered with the aid of ozone were fresher, whiter and generally improved.

How much energy, resources and money could you or your customers save by adding ozone to water processing? The information is out there and available, but you can be sure of one thing: your competition won’t be the one to tell you about it.

Saving Nursing Home Laundry Benefits From New Ozone System 

In 2002, Pine Haven County Home installed a new ozone system in its laundry facility. The system not only reduced heating, water and chemical cost, it also enhanced the quality of the linens and work environment. According to Tom Shumsky, laundry and housekeeping supervisor, ClearWater Tech’s HDO3-II ozone system was chosen to update the facility of the 120-bed nursing home.


The new ozone system cut heating, water, chemical, labor and wastewater removal costs. Wash temperatures were reduced from 180°F to a range of 50 to 60°F; operations were reduced from eight to six hours a day; and the number of chemicals used for normal washes was reduced from 11 to two. “We’re saving a ton of money because our boilers aren’t working to heat the water,” said Robert Strong, president of Innovative Chemical Systems, who worked closely with Shumsky to fine-tune the wash formulas.

The ozone system also substantially reduced sewage and wastewater treatment volume. “We pay $26,000 every three months to dump wastewater,” Shumsky said. “We can probably save 60% or more of that with the new system.”

A Better Place to Work & Live

As a result of the new ozone system, staff members no longer have to come into contact with hot washers in the laundry, in which space is at a premium. “Stainless steel washers become a danger to laundry workers because of the chance of being burned by temperatures of 160 or 170°F,” Shumsky explained.

Also, ClearWater Tech’s system—measuring 20 x 29 x 66 in.—saved Pine Haven’s laundry 13 ft of space. Its compact features enabled the nursing home to remove the water tank, pump and ozone generator associated with the laundry’s previous ozone system.

“Floor space is important in the laundry,” Shumsky said. “We use a lot less floor space because we don’t have all those 55-gal drums of chemicals anymore. Those products add much more cost and labor and take up needed space. There’s considerable energy involved in receiving, lifting and positioning the drums, even before you hook them up. Plus, there’s the safety factor involved in handling them. What if a spill occurs, especially with chlorine?”

In addition, the corona-discharge ozone system helped improve overall air quality by killing odor-causing bacteria common in the drains. “When OSHA inspected us, they couldn’t believe it was a laundry. They wanted to know where the smell was,” Strong said.

The new ozone system also benefited Pine Haven’s patients. “Ozone has improved our product quality,” Shumsky said. “There are no more holes in our goods: tensile strength has improved. There’s little or no shrinkage because of hot water use. The staff can make adjustments in the system depending on the type of soil. We can shorten wash cycles according to soil type. Our patients are pleased with the quality of goods.”

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About the author

Ken Castro is the business development manager for ClearWater Tech. He can be reached at 800.262.0203, ext. 28, or by e-mail at [email protected].