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"the California citrus crop as well as the produce coming from Chile and Mexico get "Novazoned"
Written by Daniel   
Thursday, 15 March 2007 07:31

Killing fungi softly, with ozone
By Michael Kanellos
Staff Writer, CNET
Published: March 15, 2007, 4:00 AM PDT

Oxygen--it's the ultimate weapon, at least according to Novazone.
The Livermore, Calif.-based company has developed systems that kill fungi and other microorganisms on vegetables, fruit and in bottled drinks without altering appearance or taste. Novazone's principal agent: ozone, the three-atom molecule of pure oxygen.

Ozone-disinfecting systems for keeping hot tubs or individual rooms clean have been around for several years. But by harnessing ozone for industrial applications, Novazone says it can help reduce the amount of chemicals food producers spray on their harvests, as well as take a big chunk of the $36 billion market for industrial pest killers. The spinach recall of 2006, which happened because growers didn't adequately clean their products, underscores the potential market, according to Dave Cope, Novazone's CEO.

"If you use enough chlorine, you won't have E. coli in your spinach, but people want fresh, safe food," said Cope, who came on board with the company in 2004 after spending years in the computer industry. "When you get really smart, you use natural processes. This is not some tree-hugger perspective."

Chances are, you've indirectly experienced the company's products. The makers of Dasani, Arrowhead and Aquafina have adopted Novazone's systems to kill the microbes in their bottled waters. One of the manufacturers even uses ozone to disinfect the bottle as well as the water.

A significant percentage of the California citrus crop as well as the produce coming from Chile and Mexico get "Novazoned" while in storage. Colgate-Palmolive and others also use it to purify contact lens solution, toothpaste and toilets.

"All the things you never think about but that you need to be mold-free" is how Cope described the market for Novazone systems.

Novazone also can be viewed as a poster child for the connection between Silicon Valley and clean-tech companies. Although many people may not have heard of it, Novazone has been around for years. In its earlier days, however, the company didn't focus on any particular application; it made ozone systems for zoos and aquariums and a number of other one-off productions.... MORE

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