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Name: Leon
Status: other
Grade: other
Location: TX
Country: USA
Date: N/A 

Does ultra violet light create ozone from air? If so, would it be a good idea to set ultra violet light bulbs on the air filter of a car and produce ozone to enrich combustion?

Leon -

I just suspect this particular idea would not help things out.

Making ozone is rarely energy-efficient. Supercharging, supercooling, adding nitrous are all better ways to get mileage or horsepower. Lamps usually make a tiny fraction of 1%, maybe 0.01%, at which point the ozone smell would be quite strong but the combustion would not be noticeably affected. Making 1% would take a few cubic feet of lamps and gas-chamber, and tens of kilowatts from the biggest alternator you've ever seen on a car. Even then the most noticeable effect would be knocking, because the highly reactive ozone would probably ignite the gasoline fumes when the piston squeezes them, somewhat before a normal car would know to fire the spark-plugs. Then if one adjusted the timing to avoid this knock, I suspect you would still have to settle for reduced compression, like an engine modified for very-low-octane gas.

Jim Swenson

Hi Leon,

Yes, intense UV light does create some ozone (O3) from the oxygen (O2) in the air. But there are a few things you need to know about ozone. Using UV light is a very inefficient way to create ozone. At best, it only results in less than 2 or 3% ozone concentration in air. Ozone is very unstable and reverts to oxygen very quickly. Ozone is HIGHLY corrosive. It corrodes some metals and very quickly destroys rubber seals and many plastics. Ozone is extremely poisonous and even in small concentrations, it attacks nasal and lung tissues. In short, ozone can be dangerous stuff!

As you probably already know, a molecule of ozone contains 3 oxygen atoms (O3) as compared to 2 atoms (O2) for normal oxygen. So, if it were possible to supply a significant concentration of ozone to an engine, and to recalibrate its fuel metering system to take advantage of this (that is, to inject more fuel to burn with the increased oxygen atoms that ozone contains), more power should result.

But the fact is that there is no practical method that can generate such a high concentration of ozone, in the massive volume that an engine uses. There are many ways to generate ozone, but the least efficient is the use of UV light. Even the best available ozone generators that use better methods such as corona discharge to create ozone, still only manage to produce ozone concentration levels of 10% or less, and these devices are far too complex to fit under the hood of a car!

I suggest to you that a far more practical way to increase the amount of oxygen being fed to a motor, to increase its power output, is to simply add a turbocharger or supercharger.


Bob Wilson

Yes, ultraviolet light produces ozone. I will guess a little ozone would be roughly equivalent to a little extra pure oxygen, and so would increase the energy you could get from combustion, but I doubt you would get back as much energy as you put in.

Tim Mooney

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