Ozone Layer Cycle

What is the Ozone Layer?

Almost always the ozone has only been correlated with the hole in the ozone layer and the damages it has caused to the environment. The richness of the ozone layer that makes the hole so significant and the science behind the hole is far less popular. Schönbein in the year 1840 confirmed its existence and Jacques-Louis Soret rooted the chemical formula of ozone as O3 and proved that ozone is an allotropic form of Oxygen.

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The importance of ozone is defined by the fact that it protects the earth from harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun. The ozone layer is found in the upper regions of the stratosphere where it protects the earth from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. These radiations can cause skin cancer in humans. The ultraviolet rays split the oxygen molecule into free oxygen atoms, these free oxygen atoms combine with the oxygen molecule to form ozone. This salient layer lies at a distance of 12-15 miles beyond the earth surface.

Ozone layer

Preparation of Ozone

This allotropic form of oxygen is formed by passing dry oxygen through a salient electric  with the oxygen molecule to give 5-10% of the allotropic form of oxygen. The product obtained is called ozonized oxygen.

\(\begin{array}{l}O_{2}\overset{Energy}{\rightarrow}O + O\end{array} \)

O2+O    →   O3

3O⇌ 2O3 – energy (endothermic reaction)

Ozone is unstable and decomposes to molecular oxygen. A dynamic equilibrium is maintained between the formation and decomposition of ozone. It has been found that this protective ozone layer is getting depleted because of the presence of CFC (chlorofluorocarbon) compounds.

When CFC is released into the atmosphere, they mix with atmospheric gases and reach the stratosphere. In the presence of ultraviolet rays, they are broken down to form chlorine radicals. This chlorine radical reacts with ozone to form chlorine monoxide and an oxygen molecule.

CF2Cl2 (g) → Cl (g) + CF2Cl (g)

(Note: Cl is in the form of radical)

Cl (g) + O3 (g) → ClO (g) + O2 (g)

This reaction breaks down the ozone. CFC compounds are agents which release chlorine radicals into the atmosphere and cause damage to the ozone layer.

Ozone Structure

Ozone Structure

Ozone is a polar molecule and to understand this we need to have a look at the structure of Ozone. Ozone resonates between two structures which are shown below:

Ozone layer

The middle Oxygen atom has a formal charge of +1 and the atoms at the edge have a formal charge of -1. Due to the separation of light charges and its bent geometry, it has polarity and is considered a polar molecular.

Properties of ozone

  • Ozone in its pure state is blue which has a strong disturbing smell but in a limited proposition, it has a pleasant smell.
  • It has the ability to absorb the UV rays which occupy the ultraviolet region which ranges between 220-290 nm of the atmospheric spectrum.
  • This form of oxygen boils at 161.2K and forms violet-blue crystals when solidified. It melts at 80.6k.
  • This allotrope is a strong oxidizing agent as ozone is an unstable compound under normal conditions and it decomposes quickly in the presence of heat to form nascent oxygen and molecule of oxygen.

Importance of the ozone layer

Ozone is harmful at ground level but high up the atmosphere ozone layer plays a vital role in the protection of all living beings. The sun propagates ultraviolet radiations which as an adverse effect on living beings. This layer absorbs the radiations and prohibits them from entering the outer surface of the earth. The ozone layer resides in the stratospheric layer of the earth’s atmosphere. The layers which occupy the lower part of the atmosphere removes the unwanted pollutants from the earth’s surface.

Ozone layer depletion

Ozone layer depletion

The reason behind the ozone layer depletion is mainly due to the extensive use of ozone-depleting substances (ODS). Some ozone-depleting substances are:

  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC): The use of CFC’s is one of the main reasons for the depletion of the layer. They are usually used as a coolant in refrigerators and air conditioners used in cars etc. It is also used as an industrial solvent, foam products and as hospital sterilization equipment.
  • Methyl chloroform: Finds its applications usually in industries for chemical processing etc.
  • Carbon tetrachloride: Normally used as a solvent.

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What Is Ozone Layer Depletion And Its Effects?

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs


What happens when ultraviolet light strikes the ozone layer?

In the stratosphere, ozone is mainly emitted by ultraviolet radiation. When even low-energy ultraviolet radiation is absorbed by an ozone molecule, it breaks into an ordinary oxygen molecule and a free atom of oxygen. Typically, this free oxygen atom easily re-joins to form another ozone molecule with an oxygen molecule.


What are the 2 types of ozone?

Ozone molecules (O3) have three atoms of oxygen. There are two distinct layers of ozone present in the Earth’s atmosphere. The troposphere, the layer closest to the earth, contains “evil” ozone. Tropospheric ozone is a toxic pollutant that develops as different substances produced by humans are changed by sunlight.


What is the process of ozone depletion?

They kill ozone molecules as chlorine and bromine atoms come into contact with ozone in the stratosphere. About 100,000 ozone molecules will be killed by one chlorine atom before it is eliminated from the stratosphere. More rapidly than normally produced, ozone can be lost.


How the ozone layer is healing?

According to a recent report, the ozone layer is beginning to regenerate and has the ability to fully restore. Published in Nature, a research paper heralds a rare achievement in repairing environmental damage and shows that concerted global action can make a difference.


Why is ozone layer important for us?

In the stratosphere (a layer of the atmosphere between 10 and 40 km above us), much of the ozone remains where it serves as a barrier to protect the surface of the Earth from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet radiation. We would be more vulnerable to skin cancer, cataracts and compromised immune systems if this protection were reduced.

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