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Ozone Disinfection mechanism

Water can contain microorganisms and harmful pollutants. Many of these impurities can be harmful to people, from a hygenic point of view. Improved hygiene can prevent complaints that are caused by these impurities (e.g. disease, irritation, eczema). This is why water that contains impurities must be disinfected.

Disinfection means purifying a medium up to the extend that it can no longer cause infective disease with humans, animals and plants that come in contact with the medium (mainly water).

Because of its high oxidation potential, ozone oxidizes cell components of the bacterial cell wall. This is a consequence of cell wall penetration. Once ozone has entered the cell, it oxidizes all essential components (enzymes, proteins, DNA, RNA). When the celular membrane is demaged during this process, the cell will fall apart. This is called lysis [2,19], see figure 1 below.
The above-mentioned mechanism differs from that of halogens (such as chlorine), which are usually applied. Chlorine is known to penetrate cells by diffusion. Within the cell, chlorine affects several enzyme types.

Figure 1: Bacterial lysis by ozone in 6 steps (see below)

Ozone disinfection steps:
1 – Computer animation of a bacterial cell
2 – Close-up of an ozone molecule on the bacterial cell wall
3 – Ozone penetrates the cell wall and causes corrosion
4 – Close-up of the effect of ozone on the cell wall
5 – Bacterial cell after it has come in contact with a number of ozone molecules
6 – Cell destruction (lysis)

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