Guelph, ON – An Ozone Research Lab has opened at the University of Guelph that will help scientists control microbial contamination and advance research projects ranging from enhancing greenhouse production to improving food safety to human life support in space exploration missions.
The lab was funded in part by a $100,000 gift from Phil and Laura Greenway of Purification Research Technologies in Guelph. The company is also investing $300,000 over three years in various research projects at the facility.
Research conducted in the Ozone Research Lab will benefit the greenhouse and agricultural sectors, Canada’s space program, and the general public, said Dr Mike Dixon, chair of the department of environmental biology and director of the controlled environment facility.
"This is a wonderful example of how the connections we make locally can make a difference globally," he says.
The investment from PRTI was crucial to securing the necessary infrastructure for the new lab, Dixon said. It also allowed him to leverage more than $1 million in support from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF), the Centre for Research in Earth and Space Technology (CRESTech) and the University.
Ozone is already widely used as an alternative disinfectant in water treatment and has been demonstrated to be among the most promising technologies for other uses, says Dr Dixon. "Its powerful oxidizing action attacks bacterial cells and kills them. We will use it as a tool for controlling contamination of various undesirable micro-organisms."
Ozone technology will be integrated into the nutrient storage systems that are a part of a number of research projects at the facility. This includes the hypobaric chambers where plants are grown at various pressures that simulate conditions on the moon or Mars. The goal of this research is to understand how plants can help support humans during long term space exploration missions, such as a round trip to Mars, which could take more than two years.
The new ozone lab will also support research on recycling water and nutrients, waste remediation and indoor air quality. "We’ll even be looking at applications for use in your own kitchen, from washing vegetables and sterilizing cutting boards to adding a solution to vases that hold cut flowers to extend shelf life," says Dr Dixon.