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Making New Ozone

Can we make a new ozone? Find out on this Moment of Science.

We’re always hearing that the ozone layer is being depleted, and how bad this is because we need it to protect us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.

But I’ve been thinking, and there has to be a more effective way to restore the ozone layer than just by sitting around not releasing any more harmful chemicals into the air so the ozone has a chance to repair itself.

Even though the ozone molecule contains three oxygen atoms–and the oxygen molecules we breathe contain two oxygen atoms, we can’t just use that oxygen to produce a bunch of ozone ourselves and stick it back up in the atmosphere.

Several reasons prevent us from doing this. For one thing, ozone in large quantities is extremely hazardous and volatile, which makes it hard to work with, to say the least. Also, the ozone layer is immense–there’s roughly twenty billion tons of it–and we’d have no way of handling such large quantities.

Plus, the ozone layer requires a huge amount of energy to maintain itself, which right now it gets from the sun. Taking over natural ozone production would require more than double the energy the United States produces annually. That would cause an enormous amount of blackouts.

And that’s why the only way we know to fight ozone depletion is by cleaning up our act and giving nature the chance to take its course.

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