Ozone: Formula, Structure & Properties

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  • 0:04 Prepping & Making Ozone
  • 1:37 Properties of Ozone
  • 2:23 Ozone Reactivity & Resonance
  • 3:47 Where Ozone Is Used
  • 4:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Reid

Danielle has taught middle school science and has a doctorate degree in Environmental Health

Ozone is not solely formed in the earth's atmosphere. It can also be prepared and generated in the laboratory. Use this lesson to discover why a scientist might be interested in creating and using ozone. Also, learn about the structure, formula, and properties of ozone.

Prepping & Making Ozone

If you were able to travel high into the earth's atmosphere and enter the stratosphere, you would encounter a large concentration of ozone molecules. Ozone is defined as a type of gas that's made from molecules consisting of three oxygen atoms. The chemical formula of ozone is O3. In the earth's stratosphere, ozone is formed from a two-step reactive process. First, sunlight breaks apart an oxygen molecule (O2 you'll recall) into two oxygen atoms. In the second step, these oxygen atoms collide with another oxygen atom to make ozone.

Besides its natural occurrence in the earth's atmosphere, did you know you could make ozone? The apparatus or machine used to make ozone is called an ozonizer. These devices are commonly used as an air or water purifier. That is, the ozone in the ozonizer zaps bacteria in order to kill them. Ozone also works to remove any unwanted toxic substances.

Remember that you can take oxygen molecules and make ozone. In the laboratory the same principle is applied, except a high voltage electric current is used as opposed to sunlight. This process works by taking dry oxygen and placing it in an ozonizer. As the oxygen molecule is fed through, it's zapped with a high voltage electrical current called the silent electric discharge. This electricity converts the oxygen molecule to ozone.

Our equation is as follows:

  • 3O2 + energy = 2O3

The Siemens and Brodie ozonizer's are two examples of commonly used ozonizer's in the laboratory.

Properties of Ozone

Why would it be advantageous to use electricity instead of heat when making ozone in the laboratory? One property of ozone is that it's very reactive. It's especially reactive in the presence of heat. In fact, ozone wins the award for decomposing back to oxygen, in the presence of heat. This process is called thermal decomposition.

The reaction of using oxygen molecules to make ozone follows Le Chatelier's principle. That is, the number of reactants used and number of products formed are in equilibrium. When you increase the temperature it causes an exothermic reaction to take place. This results in the decomposition of ozone to an oxygen molecule and oxygen atom. Decomposition can occur instantaneously at about 300 degrees Celsius.

Ozone Reactivity & Resonance

Speaking of decomposition, ozone is also a great oxidizing agent. An oxidizing agent is the substance in an oxidation reaction that gets reduced by gaining electrons. When ozone decomposes into an oxygen molecule and oxygen atom, this oxygen atom can be used to drive several different oxidation reactions with other substances.

For example, ozone can oxidize lead sulfide to lead sulfate. Do you need some iodine? Well, ozone can help you meet that request. When the oxygen atom from ozone reacts with potassium iodide, in the presence of water, iodine can be isolated. Another unique reaction that takes place with ozone (due to its oxidizing nature) is the tailing of mercury. If you have mercury in a glass tube and pass it through ozone, mercury will change its motion, or tail, to the sides of the glass. Ozone oxidizes mercury to mercurous oxide causing you to see this tailing effect in action.

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