The ozone layer is a precious thing, helping protect the Earth from the harshest of the sun’s radiative output. If anything were to damage this layer, we’d all feel the results in a very short order indeed.
In the past, humanity has worked to limit damage to the ozone layer from our own intentional actions. However, it’s not just aerosol cans and damaged air conditioning systems that are putting it at risk these days. The fierce wildfires we’ve seen so much of in recent years are also having a negative effect. Let’s take a look at why the ozone layer matters, and how it’s being affected by these wildfires.
[Advanced Tinkering] needed a source of fresh ozone for some future chemistry related projects, and since buying an off-the-shelf unit would be, well, just plain boring, it was obvious what to do (Video, embedded below).
The concept of the corona-discharge ozone generator is pretty straightforward — a high-voltage AC potential is presented over a large surface area, such that any O2 in the vicinity has the chance to get a decent dose of electrons ripping it apart and enabling the formation of the desired O3.
The construction is quite simple, just a pair of cylindrical metal wire mesh electrodes, separated by a glass tube, with a second glass tube surrounding the whole assembly. The use of high voltage AC allows the discharge to form by capacitive coupling across the central tube, giving a very simple construction. A pair of 3D-printed PLA end caps complete the reaction vessel, although it is noted in the video that the PLA is not terribly resistant to the corrosive effects of ozone, and time will tell whether these go the whole mileage.
Feed oxygen from an external generator is pumped into one end cap, at the bottom, with ozone-enriched gas passing out the other end, at the top, giving the gas a more complex path through the assembly and maximizing the contact with discharge. It will be interesting to see what the produced ozone will be used for in these future projects.
Measuring air quality at any particular location isn’t too complicated. Just a sensor or two and a small microcontroller is generally all that’s needed. Predicting the upcoming air quality is a little more complicated, though, since so many factors determine how safe it will be to breathe the air outside. Luckily, though, we don’t need to know all of these factors and their complex interactions in order to predict air quality. We can train a computer to do that for us as [kutluhan_aktar] demonstrates with a machine learning-capable air quality meter.
The build is based around an Arduino Nano 33 BLE which is connected to a small weather station outside. It specifically monitors ozone concentration as a benchmark for overall air quality but also uses an anemometer and a BMP180 precision pressure and temperature sensor to assist in training the algorithm. The weather data is sent over Bluetooth to a Raspberry Pi which is running TensorFlow. Once the neural network was trained, the model was sent back to the Arduino which is now capable of using it to make much more accurate predictions of future air quality.
The build goes into quite a bit of detail on setting up the models, training them, and then using them on the Arduino. It’s an impressive build capped off with a fun 3D-printed case that resembles an old windmill. Using machine learning to help predict the weather is starting to become more commonplace as well, as we have seen before with this weather station that can predict rainfall intensity.
These last few weeks we’ve all been reminded about the importance of washing our hands. It’s not complicated: you just need soap, water, and about 30 seconds worth of effort. In a pinch you can even use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. But what if there was an even better way of killing bacteria and germs on our hands? One that’s easy, fast, and doesn’t even require you to touch anything. There might be, if you’ve got a high voltage generator laying around.
In his latest video, [Jay Bowles] proposes a novel concept: using the ozone generated by high-voltage corona discharge for rapid and complete hand sterilization. He explains that there’s plenty of research demonstrating the effectiveness of ozone gas a decontamination agent, and since it’s produced in abundance by coronal discharge, the high-voltage generators of the sort he experiments with could double as visually striking hand sanitizers.
Looking to test this theory, [Jay] sets up an experiment using agar plates. He inoculates half of the plates with swabs that he rubbed on his unwashed hands, and then repeats the process after passing his hands over the high-voltage generator for about 15 seconds. The plates were then stored at a relatively constant 23°C (75°F), thanks to the use of his microwave as a makeshift incubator. After 48 hours, the difference between the two sets of plates is pretty striking.
Despite what appears to be the nearly complete eradication of bacteria on his hands after exposing them to the ozone generator, [Jay] is quick to point out that he’s not trying to give out any medical advice with this video. This simple experiment doesn’t cover all forms of bacteria, and he doesn’t have the facilities to test the method against viruses. The safest thing you can do right now is follow the guidelines from agencies like the CDC and just wash your hands the old fashioned way; but the concept outlined here certainly looks worthy of further discussion and experimentation.
If you’re like most people, then washing clothes is probably a huge pain for you. Figuring out the odd number of minutes necessary to run a wash and dry cycle, trying desperately not to end up with clothes that are still wet, and worst of all having to wait so long for your clothes to be clean can be a real hassle.
The team experimented with ultrasonics and microwave-vacuum system, and ultimately decided to use a method that controls the flow of air within the fabric. A steam generator sprays the clothes with a disinfectant while a filter quarantines the chemicals to a receptacle within the device.
They also installed sensors to monitor the performance of the machine remotely, allowing users to track their clothes and the health of the machine even when they aren’t home. Something we’ve previously seen done in the DIY space.
While a simple solution would be a large fume hood or a filter to prevent inhaling the fumes, there are more elegant solutions to this problem. [Mark]’s latest project uses an electrostatic precipitator (ESP) to remove the volatile plastic particles from the air. Essentially it is a wire with a strong voltage applied to it enclosed in a vessel of some sort. The voltage charges particles, which then travel to a collecting electrode. Commercial offerings also include an X-ray generator to help clean the air, but [Mark] found this to be prohibitively expensive.
The ESP is built into a small tube through with the air can flow, and the entire device itself is housed in the printing enclosure. The pictures show the corona discharge in the device, and [Mark] plans to test it over the next few months to determine its effectiveness. He does note, however, that the electrostatic discharge creates ozone, which has its own set of problems, so he recommends against building one on your own. Ozone at least still smells like victory.