Earth Sciences and Ecology Question #1437

Christobell Bison, a 19 year old male from Sudbury asks on May 11, 2003,

Can Ozone be created? And if so, is it possible to patch up the Earth's protective layer of Ozone with it?

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The answer

Barry Shell answered on May 12, 2003

Yes it can be created, pretty easily. It is commonly created around photocopiers because inside photocopiers there is a stage that gives out a bit of ozone. Anyway, the amounts required to patch the ozone layer are so great that it would be impossible for mere humans to create the amount needed. This would be like asking, "Can we fill the oceans with water." Not really. It's too big a job. Better to simply stop destroying the ozone layer, and let nature create new ozone naturally.

James Robert Bolton answered on May 12, 2003

Yes, ozone can be created. There are two principal methods:

1. Low-pressure mercury UV lamps with an ultrapure quartz sleeve emit UV at 185 nm, which is absorbed by oxygen (O2) in the air, causing it to dissociate into oxygen atoms. An oxygen atom then adds to an O2 molecule to make ozone (O3).

2. Electric discharge in very dry air or pure oxygen generates ozone. This is why the air smells so "fresh" after a thunderstorm. The electric discharge in lightning dissociates O2 and generates some ozone.

Unfortunately, neither of these methods is practical to generate the very large amounts of ozone that would be required to make up for the losses that have occurred in the ozone layer in the stratosphere.

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