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Can we find a way how to speed up the recovery of the ozone in the "ozone holes"?

Image credit: Denman et al. 2007

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JN
J. Nikola Oct 12, 2021
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Necessity

Is the problem still unsolved?

Conciseness

Is it concisely described?

Can we think of a way how to potentiate production, increase the rate of recovery or manually refill the polar regions with less ozone (check the map below)?

Figure 1 Map of ozone (taken from on October, 12 2021)

The important premise
Since we successfully contributed and continue contributing to the destruction of ozone with different pollutants, can we now somehow shift the balance towards ozone production, specifically in the most "damaged" areas ("refill" the ozone holes)? Scientists say that the ozone layer will recover in the next few decades due to the reduced human usage of specific ozone-destroying compounds, but will that be soon enough? The effects of global warming are appearing more often and a sharp turn of ozone dynamic balance towards the production could be crucial, don't you think?


An introduction
An ozone layer is a thick layer (30-50 km) of slightly increased concentrations of ozone in the atmosphere, capable of absorbing the UV-B radiation from the sun. A hole in the ozone layer is an area with slightly reduced ozone concentration, which consequently absorbs less UV-B and causes concerns . Ozone can be found higher in the stratosphere (naturally occurring) and troposphere (product of pollution). The "high" ozone is considered good because it protects us from UV-B radiation. The "low" ozone is thus considered bad since it causes harmful effects when people breathe it in. The concentration of ozone is dependant on the dynamic balance between production and destruction of ozone.

The production of ozone
Ozone can be artificially produced the same way as in nature - by splitting the O2 into two oxygen atoms by high-energy electron or UV light and colliding these single atoms with O2 (and a gas molecule taking the excess energy) to form O3 (Figure 2). This reaction occurs in the ozone generators, devices that purify air (remove scents and pollutants), water, decontaminate and sterilize rooms from germs.
Figure 2 The production of stratospheric ozone


Problems to be solved
Now when we know how to produce ozone, we have two problems left:
  • how to scale it up and make it energy efficient?
  • how to transport ozone to the stratosphere, where it is considered beneficial?
Motivational questions
  • is there a technique/industry that has an ozone as a byproduct, which can then be used for this purpose?
  • can the ozone be transported in the stratosphere, or there is a way how it can be directly produced there in bigger quantities?
  • do you have any other suggestion that would help the faster "healing" of ozone holes?

[1]https://eldoradoweather.com/climate/world-maps/world-ozone.html

[2]https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/features/Ozone/ozone_2.php

[3]https://csl.noaa.gov/assessments/ozone/2010/twentyquestions/Q2.pdf

3
Creative contributions

Floating algae farms.

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Contrived _voice
Contrived _voice Jan 04, 2022
Algae produce over 60% of the worlds oxygen supply, Originally in the formation of the atmosphere over two billion years ago, early aquatic organisms called blue-green algae began using energy from the Sun to convert molecules of water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) and recombine them into organic compounds and molecular oxygen (O2). On that line of thought, it stands to reason that algae farms higher up in the atmosphere give the oxygen produced a higher Uv radiation exposure converting it into O3 and replenishing ozone levels higher up in the stratosphere.
Algae also take in CO2 reducing the amount of it in the higher atmosphere. The farms also act as pseudo clouds reflecting incident sunlight back into space offsetting rising global temperatures. Algae is low maintenance thus once elevated at high altitudes above rain-bearing clouds in the stratosphere, they can be allowed to float free.
Algae is also edible and these farms can supplement global food reserves.
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JN
J. Nikola14 days ago
Using plants instead of algae
When I read your comment on BAT systems, I got inspired and started reading. What I found is an article that deals with the "evolution" of oxygen in the atmosphere. How did it form and how did its concentrations grow.
What I found out is that there was a serious problem with cyanobacteria and increasing oxygen production. Although in Proterozoic the conditions were perfect for them to produce more and more oxygen, the oxygen level in the atmosphere stayed low for 2 billion years! People suggested limited nutrients or nitrogen to be the critical limiting factor, but a team of scientists suggested something else - an enzyme. They stated that oxygen concentrations higher than 2% inhibited nitrogen fixation by inhibiting an enzyme called nitrogenase, which was responsible for the negative feedback loop, reduced cell growth, and an atmospheric oxygen lag lasting for 2 billion years.
That got me thinking - would it be the same if we created high-altitude floating plant gardens? By clever selection of plants, they could produce more O2 than the cyanobacteria and become a touristic attraction, too :D Is there any plant that could live in these conditions?

[1]https://www.cell.com/trends/plant-science/fulltext/S1360-1385(19)30186-4

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic15 days ago
Solar-powered planes could function like tugboats and help keep the floating algae farms in the air. Airbus's solar-powered aircraft flew for 26 days, non-stop.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni15 days ago
Contrived _voice Great! Maybe Zeppelins or hot air balloons can keep the algae farms in place. The Zeppelins could take the farms to the height where ozone exists (or a few miles below that) and keep them there. Drones could be used to transport other raw materials, like a source of carbon, which will need to be replenished, required by the algae. The algae could be placed as thin sheets upon a transparent substrate so that they do not obstruct the light that reaches the earth. Even if they are not transparent, they could be floated above deserts, where there is minimum human activity. Incidentally, most ozone holes are above desert areas.
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Ozone producing high-energy electrical fields and power plants on high altitudes

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JN
J. Nikola Jan 08, 2022
Ozone can be produced naturally by UV radiation splitting the oxygen high in the atmosphere. But it can also be produced artificially by the ozone generators mentioned in the session text. The mechanistic bacground process that ozone generators are based on is called the corona discharge.
It's not a release of the SARS-CoV-19 in the air. It's an electrical discharge that happens due to ionization of air surrounding a conductor carrying a high voltage (this video describes it well). The best natural example of corona discharge is a lightening (thunderstrike). On the other hand, corona discharge phenomenon can be seen next to the high-energy electrical fields, giant power plants, dalekovodi and similar.
This guy also mentioned that the production of ozone by UV is much less efficient than the production via electrical field discharge. Therefore, my suggestion is the following:
What if we created a floating high-energy electrical fields and solar power plants high up in the atmosphere? Due to increased solar irradiance, we could generate more electricity and in the same time help refilling the ozone layer. Besides, the ozone made on the ground level is dangerous to breathe in and deteriorates surrounding materials.
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Spraying ice into the atmosphere just below the ozone holes

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JN
J. Nikola Jan 07, 2022
To close the existing ozone "holes" above Antarctica, a team of scientists proposed a solution that would solve the problem faster and without any dangerous effects.
In their opinion, the main culprit of ozone depletion is free chlorine. It is produced when UV radiation breaks down chlorofluorocarbons. Reactive chlorine binds to ozone and forms O2 and ClO.
They propose the injection of tiny ice particles into the atmosphere (10 to 26 km high) to remove HCl before it gets broken down by UV radiation. To succeed, these particles should be injected, as researchers say, in the fall, when little sunlight reaches the South Pole. That way they could stop the formation of the Antarctic ozone hole in late winter and early spring.

Could we use this method for every ozone hole on Earth?
  • What could be the biggest obstacle?
  • Do you have any ideas how the ice particles could be repelled into the atmosphere in adequate quantities?
  • Can we produce the ice "on site", just like the oxygen in case of floating algae farms?

[1]https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2014EF000266

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General comments

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic15 days ago
From this Quora answer:
Ozone is an unstable compound with a relatively short half-life (about 20 minutes). It does not stay in the atmosphere for long. It is continually being formed from ordinary oxygen in chemical reactions and removed by ultraviolet light. So it doesn't really get the time and conditions to settle down.
Also taken from this paper:


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Contrived _voice
Contrived _voice14 days ago
Darko Savic, I get that but, we're not making O3..we'd be making O2 and letting it get turned into the O3 naturally but at significantly higher rates. The beauty of it is, even if the O3 degrades back to O2 It's so high up in the stratosphere that it would just get irradiated back into O3. And the cycle continues till it falls back into the troposphere...Right?
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JN
J. Nikola14 days ago
Contrived _voice I am still trying to find an experiment that shows that more O2 always results in more O3 if the radiation or anything other is not a limiting factor.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic14 days ago
J. Nikola it should be a pretty straightforward experiment. UV light in an air tunnel as control. Then add oxygen and see what effect it has on O3
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Contrived _voice
Contrived _voice14 days ago
J. Nikola A lab experiment with chlorine water indicates that reactions dependent on UV radiation show an increase in products at increased exposure to radiation with the volumes of the reactants kept constant.
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