Knowledge is Key

The IOA offers a variety of information on the use of ozone as a disinfectant

Ozone is the most powerful commercially available disinfectant and oxidizing agent, and it is highly effective in many disinfection applications. The power of ozone gas has been known for a long time. Cornelius Fox wrote, “Ozone is a deodorizing and purifying agent of the highest order, resolving and decomposing into primitive and innocuous forms. It should be pumped into our mines and cities, and be dosed through fever wards, sick rooms, the crowded localities of the poor, or wherever the active power of the air is reduced and poisons are generated.” His observations in Ozone and Antozone went on to explain, “[To] the Philosopher, the Physician, the Meteorologist, and the Chemist, there is perhaps no subject more attractive than that of ozone.”

This was in 1873—yes, over a century ago, ozone was recognized as perhaps the ultimate and most powerful disinfecting agent.

Over the past 15 years, there has been significant advancement in ozone technology, along with application know-how, to usefully deploy ozone in the industry as a highly effective disinfectant. Ozone has now emerged as an efficient and ecologically sound disinfection treatment. Ozone treatment is fast acting and effective against all microorganisms, and with proper application and system design, it can be implemented to do much of the “heavy lifting” in a wide variety of disinfection jobs.

Building Blocks

There are five parts to all ozone applications, and none can be ignored or even the best conceived ozone process may fail. Each part is distinctive, requires specific consideration and will draw on the span of your own or your organization’s technical know-how. The five parts to all ozone applications are:

  • Feed gas preparation;
  • Ozone generation;
  • Contacting, mixing and off-gas;
  • Control; and
  • Preventative maintenance and service.


You can’t leave out one part during the delivery of an ozone solution. Each of these five parts represents a large technical area when applying ozone, and each has tremendous potential for technical advancement.

Knowledge & Experience

Where can you find information about the proper use of ozone? A good place to start is the International Ozone Association (IOA).

The IOA ( has an abundance of practical and highly valuable ozone engineering information. For example, the Ozone Science and Engineering journal (OS&E), published bimonthly since 1979, contains more than 2,500 peer-reviewed papers. The first 25 years of these comprehensive papers are packed into a two-CD set, searchable by keyword, author or title to speed your application research.

A quick keyword search for ozone disinfection produces more than 80 papers specifically studying and reporting on the use of ozone for disinfection in a wide range of industrial and municipal applications. This valuable information will help water professionals and engineers to better understand, evaluate and deliver effective ozone disinfection solutions to customers.

For more specific information, like how to design an ozone contacting system, closer examination of the collection of 80 papers reveals more than a dozen papers discussing research and experiences on practical ozone contacting, off-gas control and process control design for various disinfection purposes.

Prominent engineers author information about ozone contacting and hydraulic design using in-line ozone injection and bubble diffusion methods. They discuss details like mass transfer efficiency, degassing and off-gas control so you can evaluate the best contacting devices and methods for your ozone application. Papers include drawings and diagrams of system designs and practical information describing the mechanics to model an ozone contacting installation.

The OS&E also provides information on how to add some variety to your ozone disinfection projects. A document search will reveal ozone disinfection information about applications including community drinking water; reused water, such as poultry chill water and cooling tower waters; elimination of fish pathogens in seawater for aquaculture and artificial seawater in aquariums; household wastewater, swimming pool water; and even swine manure wastewater.

In addition to OS&E, there are other resources available from the IOA to help with your disinfection project and improve your knowledge of ozone. The IOA sponsors regular conferences and symposiums with hundreds of presentations and seminars on every aspect of ozone science and engineering including disinfection applications.


The task of disinfection represents a huge portion of the $385 billion water treatment market. Year after year, ozone installations continue to gradually spread around the globe. Applying ozone successfully is not without its challenges, and each application or product offering that uses ozone requires thoughtful and thorough planning and execution. With continued education about the rapid advancements in ozone science and engineering, you can stay on top and succeed in this exciting and rapidly growing technology.


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About the author

Brian Johnson is chairman and president of Pacific Ozone Technology, Inc. He can be reached at 707.747.9600, or by e-mail at [email protected].