Types of Ozone Generators - Medical and Other
There are a number of different types of ozone generators on the market today, and it can be confusing to determine which kind is best for you. While they each have their place and purpose, here’s a quick breakdown of how they each work.
Ultraviolet (UV) ozone generators are typically inexpensive, but also one of the least efficient types of ozone generator. Just as the sun's UV rays naturally split oxygen molecules in the atmosphere into individual oxygen atoms resulting in ozone, so UV ozone generators work by blowing air over an ultraviolet light. It's less precise than other types of generators, as it requires a lot of power and time to produce a minimal amount of ozone that isn't easily measured or controlled. For these reasons, UV ozone generators are not recommended for ozone therapy. There are some advantages to UV ozone generators, however: For one, as mentioned above, UV ozone generators are most often the least expensive. And they don’t require pure oxygen so all that’s needed for successful operation is ambient air. Also, unlike other types of ozone generators, they’re not affected by humidity. UV ozone generators are typically used as air purifiers.
Corona discharge ozone generators essentially simulate lightning. When lightning comes in contact with the air in our atmosphere, the electrical charge splits the oxygen molecules into individual oxygen atoms (oxygen molecules are made of two oxygen atoms bonded together). But since oxygen atoms don’t like to be separated, they come back together as soon as possible, some of them forming clusters of three, otherwise known as ozone (O3). Ozone formed naturally in ambient air generally isn’t considered “pure” ozone”, because the air we breathe is a little less than 21% oxygen (the rest is nitrogen and a small percentage of other gases). To produce pure ozone, pure oxygen is needed. While there are some corona discharge ozone generators on the market that use ambient air, the most effective at producing pure ozone are the generators that use pure oxygen via an oxygen tank. Only the generators that use an oxygen tank (whether medical or industrial) are effective for ozone therapy, as they produce pure ozone not tainted by other gases or chemicals.This is how a corona discharge ozone generator works: Oxygen flows between two electrodes separated by a dielectric (a material that doesn't conduct electricity, like glass or ceramic), and comes out of the generator as pure ozone.
Like every kind of ozone generator, there are a couple of disadvantages to corona discharge ozone generators. Probably the biggest complaint (with the exception of cold corona discharge generators) is that the generation of enough electrical charge to produce ozone can create heat, so caution must be taken to ensure sufficient ventilation. Also, ozone production is stunted in humidity levels over 60%.
Corona discharge ozone generators are typically the most efficient type of ozone generator, and the best suited for ozone therapy.
Cold plasma ozone generators operate via two neon tubes situated side by side within a bigger chamber. An electrode at the end of the chamber is electrified, creating an electric field between the two tubes when noble gases in the neon tubes are ionized. As oxygen passes through the chamber now electrified by the neon tubes, ozone is formed much like in a corona discharge generator.
The claim is that since cold plasma ozone generators work in this way, they produce no heat. Therefore, this is their advantage over corona discharge generators. The quality and concentration of ozone produced is the same, however.
The disadvantages of cold plasma ozone generators is that they’re by far the bulkiest, heaviest and most expensive, starting at around $2,000. Aside from this, they are generally suitable for ozone therapy.
Electrolytic ozone generators (EOGs) are primarily used for water treatment, as they rely solely on the oxygen within water (generally municipal tap water) to produce ozone. The water is pumped into the electrically charged generator, which ozonates the water and cycles it back out. Chlorine and other chemical water treatments typically leave residue on equipment and traces of chemicals within the water itself, whereas ozone dissolves in water leaving no residue or harmful byproducts. Ozone is clearly the safest and most effective form of water treatment, but not every type of ozone generator is suited for water treatment. EOGs are ideal for this because they derive the oxygen necessary for ozone production directly from the water itself, creating little to no extra heat and zero chance of ozone escaping into the air. They are the least expensive type of ozone generator. But since EOGs can only produce ozone from and in water, they are not suitable for ozone therapy.
- UV ozone generators produce ozone via ultraviolet bulbs and ambient air. These are typically inexpensive and least efficient. Can generate ozone in higher humidity levels. Aren’t typically used or recommended for ozone therapy.
- Corona discharge generators produce ozone via a high voltage of electricity and pure oxygen. Are mid-range in price and produce medical/therapeutic grade ozone. Have difficulty producing ozone in humidity over 60%. Generate excess heat. Are most common type of generator used for ozone therapy.
- Cold plasma ozone generators produce ozone via two adjacent electrostatic neon tubes and pure oxygen. Do not produce heat. Are the bulkiest and most expensive type of ozone generator. Are generally suitable for ozone therapy.
- Electrolytic ozone generators produce ozone via an electric current and water. Only ozonate water, used for water treatment. Are the least expensive. Not suitable for ozone therapy.