Ozone is used extensively in Europe to purify water. Ozone, a molecule composed of 3 atoms of oxygen rather than two, is formed by exposing air or oxygen to a high voltage electric arc. Ozone is much more effective as a disinfectant than chlorine, but no residual levels of disinfectant exist after ozone turns back into 02. (One source quotes a half life of only 120 minutes in distilled water at 20 °C). Ozone is expected to see increased use in the U.S. as a way to avoid the production and formation of trihalomethanes, and while ozone does break down organic molecules, sometimes this can be a disadvantage as ozone treatment can produce higher levels of smaller molecules that provide an energy source for microorganisms. If no residual disinfectant is present (as would happen if ozone were used as the only treatment method), these microorganisms will cause the water quality to deteriorate in storage. Ozone also changes the surface charges of dissolved organics and colloidially suspended particles. This causes microflocculation of the dissolved organics and coagulation of the colloidal particles.
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