NATIONAL REPORT—At last month’s Clean Show in Atlanta, Ralph Daniels, President and CEO, Aquawing Ozone Injection Systems (AWOIS), thought about all of the ozone laundry companies that have exhibited at the show over the years—companies that, in many cases, are no longer in business. “The ones that have survived are the ones that offer local support,” Daniels says. “That is the key in hospitality.”
AWOIS, and a handful of other companies like it, have stayed around because they offer not only local support but proven systems that can dramatically add efficiencies to laundry operations. By adding ozone to the laundering process, one can eliminate hot water, almost all warm water, waste water volume, and reduce laundering cycles. Fewer chemicals are required and linen and towel life is extended. Drying times can be reduced and an improved work environment can be provided for associates because machines are not producing as much heat.
“Ozone will give you a whiter, brighter, cleaner product,” AWOIS’s Daniels says.
In addition, a high level of disinfection can be achieved. According to Jim Gross, President, Ozone Water Technologies, ozone is 3,000 times faster than chlorine when it comes to sterilizing linens. Because ozone reverts back to pure oxygen after it is used, there are no chemical residues.
“When you are using gas in the bubble-injection method, you are opening the fibers,” Gross says. “You don’t have any chemical residual left. What kills linen is drying linen that has chemicals left on it.”
A Widely Accepted Technology
Most Ozone laundry systems today make the most sense for properties with 50 to 75 rooms and above. With hundreds—even thousands—of installations in hospitality environments, ozone has become a widely accepted technology. “Validation of proof of effectiveness continues to develop,” says Cameron Tapp, President and CEO of ClearWater Tech, whose company was one of two companies featured in a U.S. Department of Energy report released last year—the other company being Ozone Water Technologies. The report, entitled, “Demonstration of Advanced Technologies for Multi-Load Washers in Hospitality and Healthcare—Ozone Based Laundry Systems,” validated the energy-saving effectiveness of ozone laundry systems.
Suppliers are constantly trying to improve their systems. For example, engineers at AWOIS have created the VO3, a new device which validates that mandatory levels of ozone have been reached and maintained within the wash wheel. Ozone Water Technologies has added maintenance meters to make it easy for users to maintain the systems. At last month’s Clean Show, ClearWater Tech introduced NatureWash, a new ozone laundry system for coin operated laundry applications.
How ozone is added into the laundry water varies per supplier. The AWOIS system is a variation of the diffusion system, but is equipped with a patented variable ozone system. This variable ozone system automatically adjusts ozone levels to maintain 1.0 ppm in the wash wheel. This system automatically adjusts the ozone generator output to match each specific load according to the load size and soil contents. Ozone Water Technologies’ LaundrOzone operates on the principal of direct injection to the washer which means that the ozone gas is injected through a diffuser that allows many small ozone bubbles to impregnate the water for the purpose of oxidation and disinfection. LaundrOzone utilizes a level control switch to only operate when water is in the washer. LaundrOzone operates on a continuous basis during selected cycles to insure the contact time is maintained. This method differs from others who provide a venturi on the incoming water or put ozonated water in a tank that feeds the washer. ClearWater Tech’s EcoTex ozone laundry system utilizes a diffuser that makes the ozone soluble by defusing it into water in the washing machine drum.
Proper Ozone Level Must Be Maintained
The key to the success of any system is being able to accurately control the level of ozone. It is important to maintain 1.0 ppm within the water. Uncontrolled ozone will eat away at the rubber in a washing machine. Leaking ozone can cause safety hazards but systems today come with monitoring and automatic ozone system shut-off devices to alert users before it becomes a problem.
Key to the success of any ozone laundry program is coordinating with those programming the laundry machines to ensure a proper chemical level. Most chemical representatives are not trained and do not have much experience with ozone chemistry. Local ozone system distributors can work with chemical representatives in order to share knowledge and develop teamwork, which will provide the end-user with the best results.
Whereas at one time laundry equipment OEMs were not working in tandem with ozone system suppliers, today that is changing. ClearWater Tech’s Tapp says OEMs are embracing ozone more and more every day and his company is working with them to get washers to be ozone-ready and ozone-compatible.
Return on investment time will vary from a few months to up to two years. Size of system will impact ROI as well as whether or not a rebate was utilized. Rebate programs continue to evolve and expand. “All California providers will give significant rebates for BTU savings and water savings,” ClearWater Tech’s Tapp says. “Other states—Texas, for example—give a significant rebate for water savings.” Lease programs, as well as service programs, are also available from some suppliers.
“A lot of places lease them,” Tapp adds. “The savings immediately pay for the lease and put money in the pocket of the customer as well. A lease may not work if you are dealing with a rebate program.”
Advice for First-Time Buyers
When asked what advice he would give to someone considering ozone for laundering for the first time, Tapp says to ask potential suppliers about third party approvals. “Has the system been validated by a third party—UL, CE, CS?” Tapp adds, “Be sure to ask if the system is appropriate for your washers. Will it benefit your size facility? Ask the supplier about the number of years in business and whether or not they manufacture their systems themselves or source them from offshore.”
“Understand how ozone works,” adds Ozone Water Technologies’ Gross. “Get an understanding of the basics. Ask companies what is the ROI that can be expected in a conservative form.”
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.