Ozone for commercial laundry applications was first introduced in the late 1970’s early 1980’s. By 2009, there were over 4,000 commercial laundry facilities that were using ozone laundry systems.
How Ozone Works
Ozone does work for removing tough stains from laundry. It works through an oxidation mechanism where ozone and an OH radical (a breakdown product from ozone and water) can work as oxidants. Ozone is a superb antimicrobial agent that can even eliminate superbugs when used properly.
Also ozone is very economical, as it works best with cold water and decreases dryer times extending fabric life. Ozone has whitening abilities as it is similar to hydrogen peroxide.
The method for cleaning by ozone in water is based on two reaction mechanisms – direct and indirect mechanism. The direct method occurs when ozone acts as the oxidizer itself to break chemical bonds. The indirect method involves ozone reacting first with water to produce OG-radicals followed by the OH radicals oxidizing chemical bonds. When ozone and OH-radicals come in contact with soils and stains in linen, they help break chemical bonds to release the stain or soil.
Ozone is more effective at lower temperatures. This is due to its increased stability and higher solubility at lower water temperatures. This saves energy from not needing to heat the water.
Ozone can also be used with colored fabric without the concern for bleaching the fabric, unlike chlorine bleach. Further for disinfection purposes, you can use ozone alone instead of bleach.
Ozone can reduce or eliminate the use of fabric softeners. Fabric softeners increase drying times due to the way it coats fabrics. However, the way in which ozone and oxygen assist in relaxing the fabric, more water is extracted during the spin cycle so less drying time is needed saving energy and money.
Due to cold water and shorter dryer times, the life of the fabric is often extended.
Benefits of Ozone
The reported benefits of ozone are three-fold: economical, microbiological and environmental.
The system eliminates softener costs, reduces electrical costs for washers and dryers by about 13% and reduced linen replacement costs by 10%.
Ozone has been shown to effectively control, disinfect and /or totally eradicate microorganisms found in soiled laundry. For example, one study found that several microorganisms such as E.coli and many types of viruses were eradicated within minutes by ozone. Ozone is effective in killing bacteria in 3 minutes and viruses in 6 minutes. It is recommended that laundry was cycles be 10-12 minutes.
The strong oxidizing power of ozone and OH-radicals converts most organic components of the soiled materials into more readily biodegradable by-products. The discharged water from the laundry wastewater systems that use ozone typically contain higher levels of oxygen which benefits receiving streams, lakes and rivers by providing oxygen for the natural microorganisms to do a better job of breaking down discharged pollutants into carbon dioxide and water.