Hydroxyls vs Ozone for odour control

The Science

Hydroxyl radicals (·OH) are created naturally in the atmosphere when the sun’s ultraviolet rays react with water vapor (H2O) and oxygen (O2). They rapidly decompose chemicals in the air and are often referred to as “nature’s broom” because of their crucial role in helping to keep the Earth’s atmosphere clear of harmful organic and inorganic compounds. Hydroxyls work primarily by abstracting hydrogen atoms, thereby dismantling the molecular structure of odours and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In fact, they react so rapidly that indoor environments have few natural hydroxyls present because they are consumed near their point of entry. Powerful hydroxyl generators using the same broad range of UV radiation as the sun are now used to naturally clean and deodorize indoor environments.

In the disaster restoration industry, hydroxyls are often compared to ozone because they are both oxidizing gasses. They both have the capacity to react with and destroy chemicals that cause odor, and they do not mask, filter or otherwise cover up odors. Hydroxyls, however, react over one million times faster than ozone and with a significantly broader range of compounds. Hydroxyls are known to react with as many as 5,000 different chemicals and are the second most powerful oxidant in the world, behind only fluorine. In practice, ozone is used in such high concentrations that it may deodorize slightly faster, but is toxic to humans and animals and damaging to many materials. 

Hydroxyl free radical chemistry is very different from ozone chemistry. Hydroxyl radicals abstract hydrogen atoms from organic compounds, which begins a cascade of free radical decomposition processes called chain reactions. These chain reactions continue throughout the treatment space and enable the effective penetration and deodorization of porous materials such as clothing, furniture, rugs or other contents and structures. By contrast, ozone is a stable molecule and its reaction mechanisms are innately slower and more selective.

There is one primary method for generating hydroxyls. Patented by HGI Industries, Inc. (Odorox), this method replicates nature’s process by producing multiple wavelengths of high-energy UV lights that are able to generate hydroxyls by reacting with water vapor and oxygen in the air. This enables the deodorization of compounds in the air as well as those absorbed by structures and contents. This technology is able to produce a sufficient quantity of hydroxyls in any environment, including areas with relatively low humidity. 

Hydroxyl Advantages

Unlike ozone, atmospheric hydroxyls are safe for people, animals, plants and all sensitive materials like rubber, plastic, leather, vinyl, electronics, paper and artwork. Contents can be wet without the risk of bleaching. Both air space and the surfaces can be treated at the same time, whilst being able to safely reside or work in the room. 

Our Hydroxyl machines come in a variety of sizes from a mobile unit that can service up to 60sqm through to a ducted HVAC system, all proven to be effective for sanitising and deodorising any odours.

The overall safety and simplicity of the hydroxyl technology creates a lot of flexibility, such as mobile units, wall & ceiling mounted through to HVAC ducted systems.