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Oxidation is a chemical reaction in which electrons are LOST by atoms, ions or molecules. Reduction is the GAIN of electrons. Regardless of the name similarity, oxidation reactions need not actually involve oxygen atoms or molecules.

Oxidation, for non-chemists and those who have forgotten high school chemistry, is commonly just burning or rusting. If done instantaneously, it is an explosion. If done rapidly, it is burning. If done slowly, it is corrosion. When acting at a molecular level, it is just plain oxidation or part of the oxidation-reduction process. It can occur in gaseous or solid states as well as in liquids.

Oxidation potential of Ozone


Formula Oxidation Potential, (eV)  Author Notes
Fluorine F 3.06  explosive in water
Hydroxyl Radical OH- 2.80  - very short half life (nano-seconds)
 - can be created using ozone, hydrogen peroxide & UV light
Nascent Oxygen O- 2.42  - rapidly combines with itself to form O2, or combines with an O2 molecule to form O3
 - can be created via corona discharge & UV ozone generation
Ozone O3 2.07  - excellent oxidizer in water or air
 - reverts back to oxygen
 - ideal for chemical synthesis & ozonolysis reactions
Hydrogen Peroxide H2O2 1.77  liquid application only
Hypochlorous Acid HOCl 1.49  - primary ingredient in toilet bowl cleaners
 - can give off toxic chlorine gas
Chlorine Cl2 1.36  - very toxic & poisonous
 - disagreeable odor
Hypobromous Acid HOBr 1.33  - considered a weak acid
 - unstable
Chlorine Dioxide ClO2 0.95  - used primarily for bleaching pulp wood


  Oxidation Potential otherwise referred to as redox potential, is the measurement of the tendency of a chemical species to acquire electrons, and be reduced.  Oxidation Potential is measured as a voltage.  Greater oxidation potential indicates a greater tendency to be reduced, and thereby create an electron exchange with other chemical species. 

Ozone has one of the highest oxidation potentials, lower only than fluorine atom, oxygen atom, and hydroxyl radical.  Some of the reactions of ozone create the oxygen atom and hydroxyl radical to create an even higher oxidation potential than ozone alone.

Because of the high oxidation potential, the oxygen molecule has a high capacity to react with many compounds not easily oxidized by other chemicals.  This potential is especially important reactions with some inorganic species such as FE+2  and I-.  However, in many cases, there is no explicit electron transfer, but rather an oxygen transfer from the ozone molecule to the other compound. 


Example of ion exchange oxidation of ozone and iron:

Fe+2 + O3 = FE+3 + O3-


Example of oxygen atom exchange oxidation of ozone and iron:

2Fe2+ + O3 + H2 O → 2Fe3+ + O2 + 2OH-


Both reactions can occur with organic and inorganic compounds.  This is just one simple example of ozone oxidation reactions.


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