Ozone continues to gain popularity for water treatment applications

April 19, 2004
Ozone's effectiveness against a range of contaminants and its ability to replace the chemical additive chlorine in water treatment are factors in its growing acceptance.

April 19, 2004 -- Ozonation is one of a group of "advanced" water treatment technologies known as such for their improved effectiveness against a range of contaminants found in source water, decreased production of waste, nonhazardous properties, diminished demand for chemical additives, and sometimes their lower energy requirements.

Ozone's ability to replace the chemical additive chlorine in water treatment is another major factor in its growing acceptance. Some environmental groups have called for an all-out chlorine ban, an unlikely possibility. But, lower chlorine limits are expected for utilities and industrial plants.

According to a soon-to-be-released report from Business Communications Company, Inc. (www.bccresearch.com) RC-244 Ozone Generation: Technologies, Markets and Players, the global market for ozone technology is estimated at $224.9 million in 2004 and is expected to reach $305 million by 2009, as it grows at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of about 6.3%.

More powerful than chlorine as an oxidant and disinfectant, ozone is gaining market share rapidly for water treatment applications. As with most advanced water treatment technologies, ozone is rising in popularity because of dwindling water supplies, lower quality resources and stricter quality standards.

Both municipal and industrial wastewater treatment can be achieved with ozone. As in potable water applications, the oxidizing disinfecting gas can be employed in place of chlorine to minimize chemical usage, storage and handling. Ozone may be applied to reduce sludge volumes, and in some regions, ozonated municipal wastewater has been recycled for re-injection into aquifers and tapped again as a source water supply.

For industry, ozone offers advantages in removing organics, color, metals and toxic byproducts such as cyanide. Incorporated into an advanced oxidation process, ozone will tackle even biological oxygen demand (BOD) and total organic carbon (TOC).

The quality of process water consumed by many large-volume industrial water users including food processors, pulp and paper producers, semiconductor manufacturers, pharmaceuticals makers, and power plants is a major concern, especially as supplies of pure "fresh water" from both ground and surface sources diminish.

Because they compete with agriculture, other industrial users, and potable water consumers for the diminishing resource, these industries are looking for processes that offer the potential for recycling water within the plant, particularly where the cost of water is increasing or where regulations make zero discharge an attractive strategy. The possibility to replace chlorine and its derivatives with ozone is also attractive for industries seeking to reduce chemicals use and/or eliminate the generation of chlorinated wastes.

Other water applications of ozone include environmental uses such as landfill leachate and ballast water treatment, groundwater cleanup, swimming pool and spa water disinfection, purified water for aquaculture and agriculture, laundry, and homeland security. Most of these niche applications are not at very large value currently. However, some, such as pool/spa water treatment, have enormous possibility.

Although ozone is effective in indoor air purification, odor control, and mold and smoke remediation, air treatment by ozonation is a small market, growing much more slowly than the market for aqueous applications. The EPA has released a report discouraging consumers from using residential ozone generators for air purification in occupied spaces, and legal action has been taken against some generator manufacturers making health claims for their products.

Ozonation is seeing increased popularity, however, for food storage, mold, smoke and odor cleanup in unoccupied residential spaces and for large-scale industrial and agricultural use in treating unoccupied spaces and malodorous off gases. Sterilization of polymer-based medical instruments is an emerging application as are certain homeland security uses.

Medical ozone is an emerging field with an even smaller market value than air purification. The practice of ozone therapy for disease prevention and treatment is limited, so far, to practitioners in Europe, especially Germany, and a handful of other nations. In the U.S., the FDA has not approved any medical ozone generating devices. Only one company is seeking approval through the agency's lengthy marketing clearance process.

Similar to other advanced technologies, ozone offers its own individual advantages and drawbacks, but cannot be used as stand alone treatment for every water or air treatment application necessary to municipal or industrial plant operation. Hybrid systems combining a train of advanced techniques generally provide the most comprehensive treatment at the best price.

The complete report, "RC-244 Ozone Generation: Technologies, Markets and Players,"
Published May 2004, is available through BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY, INC., 25 Van Zant Street, Norwalk, CT 06855, Telephone: (203) 853-4266; ext. 309, Email: [email protected].

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