Ozone treatment has played a role in water bottling plants since the 1970s. At that time, the industry was in its infancy and faced ongoing challenges with bacteria contamination during production and sterile handling and storage afterward. The presence of microorganisms not only had a significant impact on taste and smell, but the lack of disinfection also raised serious health concerns.
In 1982, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classified ozone as safe in water disinfection applications. Ozonation of water provided an efficient, safe method of disinfecting against pathogenic waterborne microorganisms and other bacteria. This enabled state health organizations to approve ozone as a bacteria-killing alternative for the bottled water industry. As a fast-acting and effective treatment technology, ozone treatment is becoming widely used for bottled water in North America, making it one of the most rapidly growing markets for ozone.
The Ozonation Process
Ozone is broadly used in the bottled water market due to its safety, simplicity and effectiveness. The ozonation process for bottled water involves a low concentration of ozone dissolved into the water, just before bottling, to disinfect the water, bottle, and cap. The process and system design are relatively straightforward. An integrated ozone injection system consists of an ozone generator, venturi injector, and recirculation pump. The in-process water enters a storage tank with a side loop, where ozone is injected into the water. The excess ozone off-gases from the water and exits through an ozone destruct at the top of the tank. The water then continues to the next step in the process, which differs depending on where the system is placed in the process. Ozone sensors can be used to monitor the ozone concentration at the injection point, the outlet of the storage tank, after the destruct unit, and at the point of use.
Ozone as a Pre-Treatment Step
Ozone can be used at pre-treatment process steps to assist in removing iron, sulfur, manganese, color, bacteria, taste and odor. Pre-ozonation reduces maintenance costs by controlling fouling and the development of biofilm. While the overall treatment system needs to be adapted to the quality of the water source, ozone will not leave residuals that alter the taste of the final product, unlike chlorine or chemical options.
Ozone as a Disinfection Step
During the ozone disinfection step, a protective environment is created against bacteria, viruses, and parasites. In bottled water ozonation, the ozone system is controlled to maintain a specific dissolved ozone concentration during a set contact time, which provides powerful, chemical-free disinfection and oxidation before the bottling step. In addition, using ozone in disinfection provides a very effective method to eliminate undesired taste and odor.
Ozone in Final Bottling
Final bottling of the water requires tight control of the ozone concentration to ensure a consistent balance between inactivating bacteria, viruses, and parasites that might be present in the product during bottling and minimizing the conversion of bromide ion to bromate.
Other Benefits of Ozone in Bottled Water
According to International Bottle Water Association (IBWA), not only is ozone safe and effective, but it also leaves no residual or taste in the final bottled water. The disinfection of both water and container also serves to extend shelf life. There are other benefits to using ozone for bottled water:
- Ozone destroys bacteria instantly and works faster than any other oxidant on the market!
- Ozone is superior to any other disinfection method because of its high oxidation state.
- Ozone is not typically associated with by-products and naturally reverts to oxygen, so no taste or odor is associated after its use.
- Ozone is generated on-site; therefore, no dangerous storage or handling is required.
- Ozone allows for lower operating costs, maintenance costs, and chemical costs.
Risks of Ozone in Bottled Water
Although ozone is created from and reverts to oxygen, it still must be used according to FDA, EPA, and manufacturer guidelines to be safe and effective. The IBWA suggests a residual ozone level of 0.2 to 0.4 ppm. This provides safe disinfection to both the water and the bottle. Other risks to be aware of include:
- Over-ozonation of the water may lead to taste problems due to a high level of ozone
- Having non-ozone compatible materials in contact with ozone can lead to contamination
- Ozone sterilization protection disappears after about 20-30 minutes, so bottles must be sealed to prevent contamination
- Once opened, bottle and water re-contamination is possible
- Bromide in water, when oxidated incorrectly, can form bromate, a suspected carcinogen at levels as low as 10 ppb.
Many, if not all, of the risks associated with ozone are directly related to the quality of the ozonation equipment and adherence to manufacturer and industry guidelines.
Why Choose Ozone Solutions for Bottled Water?
Ozone Solutions has been a leader in bacteria and odor disinfection for nearly a quarter-century. We provide options from hand-held portable ozone monitors, to small commercial generators, to large-scale industrial ozone systems for both air and water disinfection. We have also served as consultants to help define industry guidelines.
Ozone Solutions has developed an extensive line of water disinfection options for the bottled water industry, providing standardized solutions and custom tailored products to meet customers’ specific applications. We offer engineering, integration consultation, and on-site support. Every custom Ozone Solutions system comes with features specifically designed to simplify installation and maintenance while integrating seamlessly into your current process.
In addition, we are the parent company of Hess Machine. Hess has been the bottled water industry's leading supplier of ozone disinfection systems for over 40 years. Hess machines’ standardized configurations enable smaller operations to get the benefits of ozone, using the highest quality equipment, at a cost-effective entry point.
To determine which system is most suited for your situation, contact us today.