By David Halevi
There are three ways to make water clean enough for use by humans, says Ittai Weissberg, CEO of Israel's Greeneng Solutions
: heat, ultraviolet radiation and oxidation.
“Heat takes up a lot of energy and is impractical for large amounts of water,” says Weissberg. “UV takes up less energy, but doesn't get all the bacteria. And chemicals, usually used for oxidation, are expensive to use over time – and can be harmful to health.”
But there's another way to oxidize water: neutralizing and destroying bacteria with ozone. This gets you cleaner water more quickly, without the expense of heating and the risks of chemicals, says Weissberg.
“Once injected in water, ozone is extremely effective at killing bacteria. Oxidation done with ozone is 50 percent more effective than chlorine, and acts 3,200 times faster. No pathogen can survive ozone, nor can a germ adapt to it by developing a counter-mechanism,” he explains.
Although the benefits of ozone purification have long been known, producing the ozone and applying it to water has proven too expensive. But new technology from Greeneng promises to make ozone more cheaply, allowing more businesses, institutions and eventually even homes to take advantage of ozone's cleansing components.
Ozone water purification has been around for nearly a century, actually. Ozone contains three atoms of oxygen bound together instead of the normal two, and is generated by ultraviolet light, which breaks up the atoms and allows for their recombination into ozone. Germs are killed on contact, with absolutely no survivors – and no chance of developing a new generation of bacteria that are more resistant to treatment. It's certainly a more effective – and far cheaper – way to disinfect water than the alternatives of heating or irradiation.
Disinfecting without chemicals or soap
Greeneng offers several products based on ozone water purification principles. The two-year-old company's bestseller, so far, is Ozochef. Designed for restaurants, catering halls, hotels and schools, Ozochef ensures that all the water entering the kitchen is perfectly clean. Produce can be washed directly from the tap, without added chemicals or soap. Floors and work surfaces get disinfected when ozone-treated water is used to wash them down – as are the hands of workers when they wash their hands.
“We install Ozochef at the source of the water in the kitchen, and the system processes all the water coming out of the kitchen taps. There's no need to change or add anything, so the kitchen remains germ-free. The system is fully controlled by an advanced controller which runs all actions and decisions, such as when and how much ozone to produce, keeping the exact ozone dosage in the disinfected water, keeping water pressure constant, etc.”
With Greeneng's ozone-based technology, kitchen managers can stop using questionable antimicrobial chemicals such as chlorine, which can react with organic matter in the water and form carcinogenic substances. While chlorine does kill germs – although, says Weissberg, some are able to withstand a chlorine onslaught – the benefits of chlorine sterilization are easily canceled out by the cancer risks.
“Why take a chance?” asks Weissberg. “With ozone you have perfectly safe decontamination that is more effective than what you get with chlorine.”
Gray-water systems, too
Besides providing clean water for kitchens, Greeneng sells greyOgreen, a product that purifies “used” water with ozone so that it can be recycled to water gardens and flush toilets. New laws in many localities require hotels, among other places, to recycle wastewater from showers, laundries and kitchens.
“Hotels are among the biggest users of water, and among the biggest wasters of water, too,” says Weissberg. While there are many gray-water systems on the market, greyOgreen produces water of higher quality than is legally required.
“It's actually healthy and clean enough to drink, but greyOgreen only recycles water for use in toilets and agriculture,” he says. It is comparable in cost to other recycling systems, and Weissberg claims it does a far better job.
The company, based in Hod Hasharon, is privately funded but is looking for active investments – and with a technology that disinfects water more safely, Weissberg is certain he will be able to find the funding Greeneng needs to expand.
“Ozone has all the advantages of chemical disinfection with none of the risks,” says Weissberg. “Our technology makes ozone disinfection more affordable. We expect to do very well as word gets out about this.”