Ozone Generator

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Introduction: Ozone Generator

About: I am a chemical engineer from Germany especially interested in computational fluid dynamics. To balance all the theoretical work, I like to make stuff in my free time

At some point last year my car’s air conditioning unit started to develop a bad smell, which is a sign that mold has formed on the evaporator. Unfortunately, this part is hard to reach and cleaning the evaporator coils is hence a big problem. I went through a set of commercial climate control cleaning products and found most of them pretty useless:

1) Two different disinfectants in spray cans that are sold as climate control unit cleaners: The spray cans are easy to use as you just put them into the car and let them spray their content while the ventilation is running. Unfortunately, the smell was back two days after their application. I guess the sprays are a combination of a perfume (they leave a strong lemon-like smell in the car) and am mild disinfectant like isopropanol. The latter one is not good for killing mold if it reaches the evaporator at all.

2) A spray can with a long tube to spray disinfectant and cleaner directly onto the evaporator. This is actually a pretty good system and preferred by most workshops due the simplicity and easy application. It actually removes organic matter from the evaporator and typically protects it with a good fungicide. However, you have to be able to reach the evaporator with the tube which in my case sadly wasn't possible. It would have meant a lot of extra work to make it accessible. Also, the ventilation shafts are not cleaned by this method.

Talking to a mechanic I found out that some workshops use ozone generators to deodorize such cars. They use it also to remove cigarette smells or other unpleasant odors. Due to its gaseous state, short lifetime and exceptional reactivity ozone can reach the radiator, reacts with the mold (killing it) and vanishes without a trace after some hours. As professional ozone generators and cleaning services are pretty expensive, I decide to build a simple ozone generator from cheap available parts.

So should you have a smelly room, car or van simply build your own ozone generator.

Step 1: DISCLAIMER

1st: In this instructable you are going to work with dangerous voltage (110/220 V up to several kilovolts) to create Ozone which is a hazardous substance. Make sure to always use a ground fault circuit interrupter during building, testing and using the device. Also, make sure that all metal casings are properly grounded. If you are not sure, I strongly advice to use a portable GFCI plug like this one to keep yourself from harm.

2nd: Ozone is a very aggressive substance which irritates and damages the eyes, throat and respiratory system at already very low concentrations of 1 ppm (0.0001 Vol-% or 2 mg/m³). Luckily, the substance has a very characteristic odor and the odor threshold for humans is below 0.1 ppm. This means that you will smell the gas well before it reaches dangerous concentrations. NEVER run the generator in an enclosed space together with living animals (including yourself, your pets,…) and ventilate the room for several hours before entering it again.

Step 2: What Is Ozone and Where Does It Come From?

Most of you probably mainly know ozone from the so called ozone layer, a naturally occurring layer in our atmosphere that protects life on earth from UV radiation.

Ozone is a molecule build purely from oxygen atoms. But in contrast to our “breathable air” oxygen (that consists of two oxygen atoms) ozone is built from three. Chemists call this difference in atomic constitution an allotropy. Although this difference sounds insignificant at first, the ozone molecule is much more active than our “standard” air oxygen. Also, Ozone is metastable, which means that it is energetically favored to dissociate according to the following equation:

2 O3 → 3 O2 ΔHf0= -286 kJ

To give you an idea of this value: The decomposition of 2 mol O3 (96 g of ozone) alone (not including any heat from reaction of ozone with other substances) is enough energy to heat 1 kg of water from 10°C to 80°C.

Step 3: The Science Behind It

As described in step 2 ozone is not a very stable substance that can decompose without any other partner into oxygen. Consequently, ozone cannot survive very long under ambient conditions and cannot be stored without major obstacles. To use it, it has to be generated on spot.

There are three major sources for ozone:

1st ) In our upper atmosphere ozone is build up by irradiating oxygen with energetic ultraviolet radiation. The highly energetic radiation cleaves the O-O bond and forms two oxygen radicals that react with other oxygen molecules to ozone. You can find a lot of detailed information about that on Wikipedia. You can buy UV based ozone generators mainly to disinfect water (e.g. here), but for our intended purpose of deodorizing a room the amount of ozone is typically too small.

2nd) In the presence of nitrogen oxides and volatile hydrocarbons ozone can be build up in the lower atmosphere, which is (in contrast to upper sphere ozone) harmful for humans, animals and plants. This phenomenon is typically known as “summer smog”. NO2 (which can be formed e.g. in combustion engines, fired heating systems,… ) is decomposed by UV radiation into NO and ozone.

NO2 → O + NO

O2 + O → O3

This process would essentially be completely reversible, however, in the presence of hydrocarbons (e.g. only partially burned fuel) NO is converted again into NO2.

R-CH3+ 2 O2 + 2 NO → R-CHO + 2 NO2 + H2O

With better combustion engines and exhaust catalysts the emission of hydrocarbons and NO2 (and hence also summer smog) has been drastically reduced.

3rd) Electricity: Do you know the smell of an old laser printer when operated? You will get the same near an electric arc or near a place where lightning struck during a storm. All have in common that high voltage is used to ionize the air. During this process large amounts of ozone can be generated. Most of the electrical ozone generators do in fact not use electrical arks (as those are bad to handle and lead to rapid material degradation) but corona discharges. Again, you can read a lot about those e.g. on Wikipedia.

There are some pretty impressive electrical driven ozone generators out there. I decide to go with these as they are quite cheap (around $30 and even less if you get them from China), easy to handle and generate an astonishing amount ~ 10 g/hour of ozone. This does not sound like much in the beginning, but keep in mind that for deodorizing cars rates of 0.5 g/h are enough and professional room cleaning generators are aiming for 5 to 10 g/h.

Step 4: Concept and Layout

As you can see in the picture, the layout is pretty straightforward: The ozone generator panels are put into a metal box together with some powerful fans (located in the backplane) that cool the whole system and transport the generated ozone to the outside of the box. A relay board together with an Arduino Uno board are used to control the whole system.

Two 5-position rotary switches are used to set the desired power level and runtime. To save some DIO pins on the Arduino we’ll use a resistor network and the analog inputs to read the switch position. The “start” button is used to start the generator (duh) and some LEDs indicate which panel is currently running and if the fans are on. A “boost” button is used to optionally have a strong start (both generators running continuously for 10 minutes) and a lower ozone formation afterwards. This can be useful e.g. for cars where you want to fill the room with ozone in the beginning and keep it at a lower level for a few hours afterwards.

The generator uses 220V AC for the ozone generator panels and powers a 12 DC converter for the Arduino Uno controller and for the fans. You will find a more detailed electrical layout later in the instructable.

You have to consider three important points in the layout:

1st) The fans need to be powerful enough to cool the O3 generators and transport new oxygen to the generator panels. I used two 80 mm 12V fans for servers. Also the 12V power supply has to be good enough to supply the fans, the Arduino and the relays.

2nd) High voltage (the O3 generator uses a few kV) means that voltage flashovers can occur. Keep cables at least 5 cm away from the panels and if you are using a metal enclosure (I used one for fire safety reasons) be sure to ground every part properly.

3rd) The high voltage generators produce some electrical noise that can be harmful to small electrical components. Be sure to keep the Arduino and the relay board away from the generators. I also found it helpful to put the AC-DC transformer in between those systems as the (grounded) metal case of the transformer acts as a barrier.

Step 5: Drilling the Front and Back Plane

I used metal holesaws to drill the openings for the buttons, the power cable, the air inlets, the LEDs, and the fan outlets into the metal front- and backplane. I found it very helpful to put the metal backplanes between two pieces of wood to keep them from bending and used a printout of my intended design to position the drill.

Step 6: Electrical Layout and Code

I have attached an image of the final layout as a guideline. You can find the electrical layout in the second picture. The Arduino code to control the system is given below.

I have tested the generator two months ago, by putting it into the passenger cell of my car, guiding the power cable through an open window (seal the slit with tape) and turning the air conditioning on. If you have an active carbon based filter in your ventilation system you will have to temporarily remove it since otherwise it will capture most of the generated ozone. After letting the air circulate for 120 minutes while the generator was running on the lowest setting I unpluged the generator (you can also set the timer) and opened all doors to air out the passenger cell. After 4 hours the ozone smell was gone and the whole car smelled as good as new. Until now the moldy smell has not returned.

So if you are having the same problem, give this method a shot.

Explore Science Contest 2017

Runner Up in the
Explore Science Contest 2017

Makerspace Contest 2017

Participated in the
Makerspace Contest 2017

#Vanlife Contest

Participated in the
#Vanlife Contest

1 Person Made This Project!

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63 Discussions

0
oldfatnbroke
oldfatnbroke

3 years ago

Call me a "nit picker" but I can't help it. Its not the condenser that is causing your "stinky" A/C in your car because it is not inside the car. It is located under the hood right in front of the radiator. It is the evaporator coil that is located in the "heater" box under the dash where the offensive smell comes from. What causes the problem is usually leaves and other plant material that gets trapped in the heater box and gets saturated with water when the A/C cooling cycle is used. I'm sure you have noticed the water that drips under cars during warm weather. There is a drain hose with a "flat" end that lets the water escape from the box, the flat end is on it to keep insects or anything else from crawling into it. To clean the trash out of the box you will need to reduce the end of your garden hose as small as you can, 3/8 of an inch (9 mm) is about as big as you need. Drill a hole as high as you can in the box where the evaporator coil is located. WARNING! If you drill a hole in the heater box DO NOT jam the drill into the box or you will damage the evaporator coil of the heater coil! Get somebody to hold the drain tube open, just squeeze the sides so the hose opens and then squirt water in through the hole you drilled in the box and let it drain out through the drain hose. You can use the coil cleaning products at this time. After washing out the box you need to plug the hole you drilled or stick a piece of duct tape over it, if you do not plug the hole you will have air (hot, cold or ambient temp) blowing into the car while it is being driven.

This is not hard to do just be careful drilling the hole!

0
Acrexp
Acrexp

Reply 4 months ago

Just to put my 2 cents in.
On a lot of vehicles you can take the blower motor assembly out and get to upstream side of the evaporator and clean out all the gunk with a wet vac. You may have to rig up a smaller hose but that is the easiest way I know of. In some cars they have an air filter. Normally behind the glove box on many vehicles. That is another place to access the upstream side (the dirty side) of the evaporator. Once you suck out all you can you can wash it out if you go slowly so you don't flood everything. The drain is small. About the size of your little finger. Just use a little common sense.

0
ikkeio
ikkeio

Reply 2 years ago

Uhh... Read again?

0
MimiE091209
MimiE091209

Reply 3 years ago

Glad you posted this because my head was about to explode with the condenser/evap mixup!
Thank you.

0
GTO3x2
GTO3x2

Reply 3 years ago

Was also going to comment that they probably meant the evaporator coil.

0
manta10
manta10

5 months ago

There is a bug in the idea of making ozone generator from such plates, since offered corona plasma discharge plates are made of plastic part, featuring two-side deposited electrodes.
For corona plasma discharge effect to take place you need to place 2 electrodes in thin air, since ozone is generated from thin air.

So to make these plates to work you need 2 plates and have a single cord soldered to a single plate ( printed electrode side) than you need to flip one plate to have printed electrodes to look face-2-face to work, since for corona plasma discharge effect to work, you need thin air as a dielectric separator.

Working other way, as suggested by you and as suggested by tens of chinese web sites
https://www.amazon.com/ask/questions/asin/B01MZ2YJ...

you build simply high - voltage heater, damaging the plate very soon, not generating ozone.

So read basics, how ozone is produced first

https://www.oxidationtech.com/ozone/ozone-production/uv-lamp.html

https://www.amazon.com/ATWFS-Ceramic-Generator-Purifier-Ozonizer/dp/B01MZ2YJD6/ref=as_li_ss_tl?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1499285142&sr=1-22&keywords=ozone%2Bgenerator&linkCode=sl1&tag=myinstrucacco-20&linkId=cb00abf4958bbd50254f36f69da24ee2&th=1

0
kokonutcreme
kokonutcreme

5 months ago

I agree with Cyborg Eagles. As a High Voltage/Current hobbyist making Corona/Plasma and high current discharge is far less complicated than the schematics shown here. Due to the current Global situation I have 4, Disinfectant, Germicidal applications I made myself. I would never dare make mine public as they are "1" mistake toys. Sorry mate, but this doesn't mean to go looking for the transformers and stuff. Stick to Aliexpress or Wish as they provide lamps.Please take a look at these vids on YT https://www.youtube.com/watchv=aaVnAO1Vvk and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T39BHvrHZ0 Straight to the point he is. Cheers.

0
Cyborg Eagles
Cyborg Eagles

5 months ago

Not to be negative, but I can't believe this would work with only 230VAC across the plates. Normally an ozone generator is in the kilovolt range in order to produce the corona.

0
XTL
XTL

Reply 5 months ago

the 230V drives a 12V transformer which in turn drives the unit. If you're in a 115V country then you'd use that to get the 12V. The unit takes that 12V and transforms it up to 3-3.5kV and this is what generates the ozone on the plates. The units have all the specs. Search for ozone generator on Aliexpress for example.

0
richardacreiche
richardacreiche

5 months ago

Hi,
What relay board did you use for this build?

0
jimosquera25
jimosquera25

5 months ago

An arduino for this seems kind of overkill. Seems people will use an arduino even if the project is just a flashlight. Should be able to do a simpler/cheaper version by sending a 12V square wave to a car coil with a spark plug. The amount of O3 can be varied by changing the frequency of the square wave. You would need to add a flyback diode unless you use one of those MOSFETS that have one built-in.

0
SanjaySivanWorks
SanjaySivanWorks

Question 7 months ago on Step 3

Can I Get some pictures in every angles it would help a lot as I am improving this model and the just case with no components would really help to. Thank you very much, i would really appriceate this help, also the materials list

0
BrittLiv
BrittLiv

Answer 7 months ago

I am really sorry, I don't have it anymore

MY FRIEND, TAKE CARE DOING AND USING OZONE O2 or O3 .... CLASS OF BASIC CHEMISTRY: Oxygen is the common element to react in the RED-OX chemical reactions making this in this way a very corrosive agent. I had long time ago one of those and everything that was metal got rust and rusted all staining and completely damaged.... It is too dangerous too for our lungs in high And lots of exposure to this Chemical Compound.... Try to use a little doses, no more please... The project is cool, but watch it my friend!!! : D

0
mike0910201
mike0910201

Reply 2 years ago

ALSO: Rubber and plastics are going to turn to powder after a while.

0
ikkeio
ikkeio

Reply 2 years ago

He said that at the very beginning, "Friend". and OF COURSE HE IS NOT GOING IN A CAR FULL OF OZONE!!!

0
iceng
iceng

Reply 2 years ago

Ozone is a an energized oxidation molecule !

As such it will prematurely age Art paintings and ancient manuscripts which is why it is so good at rapidly eliminating offensive odors (Excepting cat urine)..

0
Cyberchipz
Cyberchipz

Reply 3 years ago

Also, while I'm at it, I was just thinking that a whole home unit that could be installed in the A/C & Heat air intake for the whole house. I wish there'd been an instructable for something scaled to general usage.

0
Cyberchipz
Cyberchipz

Reply 3 years ago

How would someone modify this to make a simple ozone generator for the home, like the ones that can be bought in the store. I guess since it can be ramped down, I'd have to research the specs for safe ozone levels, it wouldn't need but one generator, and instead of 220, just upconvert from 110 to 220. And I suppose a little math would give us the ratio of output of the O3 IC and desirable levels... it that enough?

0
nulla.nome
nulla.nome

2 years ago on Step 6

Nice write-up! However, if one want the system to stop when the total timer expires, I suggest the following changes to the source code:

1. In function loop() add the line:

if ((systemActive == 1) && (totalRunTime > totalTime)) { Serial.println(F("Total timer ended")); startStopSystem(); }

2. In function startStopSystem() in the conditional statement if (systemActive == 0) add:

totalRunTime = 0;

3. In function dutyCycle() change:

totalTime = totalTime + 1; to totalRunTime++;