Atoms, molecules, or ions lose electrons during oxidation process. Electrons are gained during reduction. The presence of molecules or oxygen atoms is not required for oxidation reactions. This article covers everything you need to know about ozone oxidizing potential.

What is Oxidation?

Oxidation is commonly referred to as burning or rusting by non-chemists and those without a background in chemistry. It is referred to as explosion when it is done instantaneously and it is referred as burning when it is done rapidly. Corrosion occurs when it done slowly. It is referred as simple oxidation process or the oxidation-reduction process, when acting at the molecular level. In addition to liquids, the oxidation can occur in solids and gasses as well.

SpeciesFormulaOxidation Potential, (eV) Author Notes
FluorineF3.06 explosive in water
Hydroxyl RadicalOH-2.8 - very short half life (nano-seconds) - can be created using ozone, hydrogen peroxide & UV light
Nascent OxygenO-2.42 - rapidly combines with itself to form O2, or combines with an O2 molecule to form O3  - can be created via corona discharge & UV ozone generation
OzoneO32.07 - excellent oxidizer in water or air - reverts back to oxygen - ideal for chemical synthesis & ozonolysis reactions
Hydrogen PeroxideH2O21.77 liquid application only
Hypochlorous AcidHOCl1.49 - primary ingredient in toilet bowl cleaners - can give off toxic chlorine gas
ChlorineCl21.36 - very toxic & poisonous - disagreeable odor
Hypobromous AcidHOBr1.33 - considered a weak acid - unstable
Chlorine DioxideClO20.95 - used primarily for bleaching pulp wood

Alternatively known as redox potential, oxidation potential indicates the tendency of a substance to acquire electrons.  OTP can be measured in the form of voltage.  Objects with a higher oxidation potential tend to be reduced, and therefore create an electron exchange with other atoms.

Only fluorine atoms, oxygen atoms, and hydroxyl radicals have a higher oxidation potential than ozone.  Ozone’s oxidation reactions can produce an even higher oxidation potential than ozone alone because they create oxygen and hydroxyl radicals.

Considering the high oxidation potential of oxygen, it has an extremely high ability to react with a wide variety of chemical compounds.  FE+2 and I- both fall into this category, and this potential is especially relevant for reactions with these species.  It is more common, however, for an oxygen transfer from the ozone molecule to the second compound to occur than an electron transfer.

  • Example: Ozone and iron oxidized by ion exchange

            Fe+2 + O3 = FE+3 + O3-

  • Example: Oxidation of ozone and iron by oxygen atom exchange

            2Fe2+ + O3 + H2 O → 2Fe3+ + O2 + 2OH-

The above mentioned examples of ozone oxidation reactions can occur both with inorganic and organic compounds.  

What are the Benefits of Ozone Oxidation?

ozone physical chemical properties
  1. No transport required, because it is produced on location
  2. Widely applicable for oxidation of various components.
  3. Oxidized substances are easy to remove. 
  4. There is no better way to disinfect and cleanse water than by ozone oxidation.

Ozone oxidation is by far the most effective water treatment process. Furthermore, ozone is an eco-friendly process since it breaks down into oxygen within minutes. This is due to the fact that ozone has a high oxidation potential, meaning it is capable of reacting with other substances.

Using the redox potential as a measure of ozone’s oxidation potential, we find that ozone has about five times the oxidation potential of oxygen, and about twice that of chlorine. Viruses, bacteria, and fungus are all killed by ozone. Due to the high kill rate, reaction times can be shortened and reaction tanks can be smaller than with other oxidants. As a result, tank and treatment plant investment costs can be greatly reduced.