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Corona Discharge vs. UV Ozone Generation

Ultraviolet lamps have been used for decades to generate ozone. This lamp emits UV light at 185 nanometers (nm). Light is measured on a scale called an electromagnetic spectrum and its increments are referred to as nanometers. Figure 1 represents an electromagnetic scale; note the location of higher-frequency ultraviolet light relative to visible light (the range of light perceptible by the human eye).


Figure 1
Wavelengths in nm

Air (usually ambient) is passed over an ultraviolet lamp, which splits oxygen (O2) molecules in the gas. The resulting oxygen atoms (O-), seeking stability, attach to other oxygen molecules (O2), forming ozone (O3). The ozone is injected into the air stream, where it inactivates contaminants by actually

rupturing the organisms’ cell wall



The technologies involved in corona discharge ozone generation are varied, but all operate fundamentally by passing dried, oxygen-containing gas through an electrical field. The electrical current causes the “split” in the oxygen molecules as described in the section on ultraviolet ozone generation. Past this common feature the variations are many, but the generally accepted technologies can be divided into three types – low frequency (50 to 100 Hz), medium frequency (100 to 1,000 Hz), and high frequency (1,000 + Hz). Since 85% to 95% of the electrical energy supplied to a corona discharge ozone generator produces heat, some method for heat removal is required. Also, proper cooling significantly affects the energy efficiency of the ozone generator, so most corona discharge systems utilize one or more of the following cooling methods: Air or water.


At the heart of a corona discharge ozone system is the dielectric. The electrical charge is diffused over this dielectric surface, creating an electrical field, or “corona”. Critical to CD ozone systems is proper air preparation. The gas feeding the ozone generator must be very dry (minimum -80 degrees F), because the presence of moisture affects ozone production and leads to the formation of trace nitric acid. Nitric acid is very corrosive to critical internal parts of a CD ozone generator, which can cause premature failure and will significantly increase the frequency of maintenance. The chart below shows that relative ozone output decreases as moisture content increases.



Of the ozone technologies mentioned above, none has a clear advantage. However, to help narrow the field for a particular application, consider the amount of ozone required. You may find that low and medium frequency ozone systems will have prohibitively high initial costs for applications requiring less than ten lbs./day. However, they have a proven history of durability and reliability. High frequency ozone generators seem to have the best combination of cost efficiency and reliability for applications requiring less than ten lbs/day of ozone output.


  • Corona discharge ozone generators benefit from oxygen preparation thereby doubling the ozone output per given volume vs. dry air
  • Small construction allowing generator to be installed in virtually any area
  • Creates a more pure form of ozone without creating other harmful or irritating gases
  • Corona cell life can exceed ten years
  • Can create high quantities of ozone (up to 100-lbs/day)
  • Can be more cost-effective than UV-ozone generation


  • Environmentally Safe
  • Easier to clean – Less cleaning required
  • Zero Nitrogen Oxides
  • UV (ultraviolet) ozone production is not affected or diminished by humidity
  • Impossible to overdose


  • Information provided by AquaSun Ozone

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