Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: ozone from Dictionary of Energy

Chemistry. O3, a triatomic form of oxygen; a pungent, unstable blue gas that is formed naturally in the upper atmosphere; it constitutes a protective layer against excess ultraviolet radiation. Ozone in the troposphere (ground level ozone) is a harmful pollutant formed primarily by reactions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides; it is a major ingredient of photochemical smog.

Summary Article: ozone
From The Columbia Encyclopedia

(ō'zōn), an allotropic form of the chemical element oxygen (see allotropy). Pure ozone is an unstable, faintly bluish gas with a characteristic fresh, penetrating odor. The gas has a density of 2.144 grams per liter at STP. Below its boiling point (−112 degrees Celsius) ozone is a dark blue liquid; below its melting point (−193 degrees Celsius) it is a blue-black crystalline solid. Ozone is triatomic oxygen, O3, and has a molecular weight of 47.9982 atomic mass units (amu). It is the most chemically active form of oxygen. It is formed in the ozone layer of the stratosphere by the action of solar ultraviolet light on oxygen. Although it is present in this layer only to an extent of about 10 parts per million, ozone is important because its formation prevents most ultraviolet and other high-energy radiation, which is harmful to life, from penetrating to the earth's surface. Ultraviolet light is absorbed when its strikes an ozone molecule; the molecule is split into atomic and diatomic oxygen: 03+ ultraviolet light →0+02. Later, in the presence of a catalyst, the atomic and diatomic oxygen reunite to form ozone. Some environmental scientists fear that certain human-produced pollutants (e.g., nitric oxide, NO) may interfere with this delicate balance of reactions that maintains the ozone's concentration, possibly leading to a drastic depletion of stratospheric ozone. Ozone is also formed when an electric discharge passes through air; for example, it is formed by lightning and by some electric motors and generators. Ozone is produced commercially by passing dry air between two concentric-tube or plate electrodes connected to an alternating high voltage; this is called the silent electric discharge method. Ozone is used commercially as a disinfectant and decontaminant for air and water, and as a bleaching agent for waxes, oils, and other organic compounds. The major commercial use is in the production by ozonolysis of azelaic acid (used in making plastics); it is also used in the synthesis of cortisone and certain synthetic sex hormones. Ozonization, the reaction of ozone with the double or triple bonds of unsaturated organic molecules, is useful in determining the structure of organic compounds.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

Related Articles

Full text Article ozone
The Encyclopedia of Ecology and Environmental Management, Blackwell Science

A gaseous allotrope of oxygen with formula O 3 and boiling point 112°C. It is a very powerful oxidizing agent, sparingly soluble in ...

Full text Article ozone
Philip's Encyclopedia

Unstable, pale-blue, gaseous allotrope of oxygen , formula (O 3 ). It has a characteristic pungent odour and decomposes into molecular oxygen....

Full text Article Ozone
Encyclopedia of Global Health

Ozone is a triatomic molecule that consists of three oxygen atoms and its molecular formula is O3. This is much less stable than the normal...

See more from Credo