Ozone treatment is the universally-accepted, routine disinfection procedure in the water bottling process. It is used as the final treatment step by nearly all bottled water producers in North America and most pure water (non-mineral) labeled bottled water producers worldwide. Why? Because ozone treatment delivers the most powerful oxidant commercially available and an effective microbiological barrier that water bottlers can employ to protect consumers against microorganisms, and improve product water taste and quality.
Promoting Ozone Use
The benefits of ozone treatment to improve product water taste, order and quality continue to grow for water bottlers. This is in addition to the disinfection, shelf stability and product safety already recognized as significant value that ozone adds to the bottled water process.
Consumers are more aware of ozone technology than ever before. They are exposed to ozone technology and its benefits not only through bottled water but also through a wide variety of consumer and commercial uses that improve the health and quality of their lives.
With the huge variety of bottled water brands available, consumers have the advantage of choice. However, no matter which brands they prefer, consumers expect that the bottled water they purchase will not only taste good, but be a good value as well. Ozone plays a significant role to both the customer’s expectation of taste and value as well as the bottler’s goal for safety and shelf life.
Bottlers Rely on Ozone
Ozone treatment played a pivotal role early in the bottled water industry that contributed to the healthy growth enjoyed by bottlers for many years. Ozone proved to be the “magical” oxidant that could disinfect everything—the water, the bottling equipment, the bottle, and the sealed cap—and then decompose to harmless oxygen and disappear without leaving a taste or odor. In addition, the ozone disinfection and oxidation process also delivered improved product taste and aesthetics that appealed to consumers and further promoted bottled water growth. Consumers say bottled water tastes better for a reason. The oxidation of odor-causing organics, oxidizable inorganics and the polishing effect of the water by ozone treatment simply improves the taste—and because the majority of human taste is influenced by our olfactory sense—bottled water smells better too.
Water bottlers rely on ozone treatment as a critical component of the production process and need to stay current with the latest technological advances and improvements. In addition, they must be aware of and understand the regulatory standards and procedural changes mandated by the FDA, EPA and IBWA. Some of the challenges today are that many bottling plant operators and maintenance personnel are responsible for outdated ozone generators that are inadequate and can’t meet the changing demands of their process. Older ozone installations often use antiquated gas transfer designs that can complicate an operator’s effort to maintain stable ozone levels and performance during bottling. Variables are found in all bottled water processes and require some level of ozone control. An outdated ozone installation will frequently not meet the increasingly tight performance standards required by a bottler’s quality control procedures. As the bottler develops and updates process guidelines for ozone dosages to achieve the desired oxidation and disinfection results and avoid undesirable or wasteful over-ozonation by-products, performance and operating limits will continue to tighten for the ozone applications in bottling, washing, safety and sanitation protocols in the bottling plant.
A few bottlers in the U.S. may face a new challenge in applying ozone without exceeding the newly established disinfection by-product maximum contaminant level for the bromate ion. Because of the relative and perceived ease of ozone treatment, many bottlers still don’t use proven ozone process controls and monitoring technologies. Thus, they’re yet to assure precise ozone treatment. The careful use of controls can result in a higher quality bottled water.
Water bottling operators increasingly use a variety of data acquisition and control devices and systems to manage and operate the bottling plant and processes. The ozone treatment system, as an integral component of the bottling process, influences what the consumer will taste in the product, and should be prioritized on par with other control systems considered for the rest of the plant. Progressive ozone manufacturers have developed and deployed a range of ozone treatment technologies and processes that meet the ever increasing expectations of water bottlers and consumers.
Today, ozone control challenges are being addressed with a variety of fully integrated and automated ozone systems. This new genera-tion of ozone system uses advanced ozone gas analyzers, dissolved ozone monitors (essential in bottled water operations), temperature, pressure and flow control, as well as an assortment of other data to monitor and control the ozone treatment process.
In addition to controlling the ozone generator, the ozone treatment process includes dissolving and mixing ozone into the water. Moreover, improvements in efficient gas mass transfer methods from ozone manufactures have further simplified the ozone treatment process.
What to Do Now …
Ozone treatment makes water taste better, so do your ozone homework and put the proper priority on ozone treatment in your operation to get the best benefit from this technology. Ongoing training, maintenance and technical support should be offered by your ozone supplier to assist you in keeping your ozone treatment system up- to-date and efficient. Continue to invest in your ozone process for quality, efficiency and safety. Today, a bottled water plant operator can use a PC and/or HMI (human machine interface), PLC (programmable logic controller) control and advanced ozone contacting systems for managing the ozone system and process. The ozone treatment process can be made easier by remote access via Internet-ready modules, networking and other digital interface devices. These continuing technical advances will help you improve the ozone process and quality of your product. Join the International Ozone Association and stay current on ozone technology and developments. bw
- Benefits of Ozone Treatment for Bottled Water L. Joseph Bollyky, Ph.D., P.E., October 2002
- Ozone: More is Not Always Better Paul K. Overbeck, September 2004
- Your water bottling plant: Who’s in Control? David Tye, October 2002
- WQA Ozone Task Force: An Update Paul K. Overbeck, March 2000
- Ozone Generation Technology: Past, Present & Future Dale Mork, August 2001