How Many Tesla Coils Would It Take To Fix The Ozone Layer?

Keara Lou

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Picture it. A machine that makes lightning when you push a button. One purple lightning bolt reaching out to anything.

The start of my curiosity

A quick bit of backstory. My partner builds tesla coils for a living. He makes them and sells them on eBay.

One day, I went in his work shed while he was testing out one of his machines. One of the experiments he does is hold an LED lightbulb as close as he can while he’s pushing the button. As he did it, I smelled something. It’s hard to describe the smell of it.

“Oh, that’s ozone!” he said. The same ozone is floating around the planet.

Real lightning makes ozone. Tesla coil lightning can do the same thing. So that got me thinking.

How many tesla coils does it take to repair the ozone layer?

Basic ozone knowledge

According to the EPA, the ozone layer shields the Earth from harmful radiation from the sun, especially UVB rays. UVB rays can lead to skin cancer, cataracts, and crop and marine life harm.

In 1974, two chemists at the University of California discovered CFC gases as depleting the ozone layer and published their works in a paper called Nature. CFC gases were commonly found in aerosol sprays and refrigerator coolants at the time. Their efforts won them the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1995.

In 1985, there was a hole in the ozone layer discovered in Antarctica. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was issued in 1987, phasing out CFC gases.

As of 2018, the hole in Antarctica is recovering. But there are signs of other countries violating the Montreal Protocol.

National Geographic puts the results in simple terms.

Without the pact, the US would’ve seen an additional 280 million cases of skin cancer, 1.5 million skin cancer deaths, and 45 million cataracts — and the world would be at least 25 percent hotter.

How lightning makes ozone

When lightning strikes, it excites oxygen molecules, breaking them apart. Some turn back into oxygen. Some get a third oxygen molecule and become ozone. Though, that only lasts for 90 minutes at most before the particles turn back into oxygen.

The smell of ozone is the same as the smell from tesla coil lightning. Making me wonder if I’m onto something.

The primary purpose of a tesla coil is to create artificial lightning. It’s not powerful enough to create an artificial power source. It’s more of a novelty item for science enthusiasts and hobbyists. Though a lot of science teachers have an interest in them, too.

My hypothesis

I started wondering if maybe lightning has something to do with repairing the ozone layer. And if it does, could every home contribute to restoring the ozone layer by having a tesla coil in their homes?

So I started researching. I found a story from NASA talking about lightning’s effect on atmospheric chemistry. It looked promising.

Lightning emits ozone as it strikes, but so do fossil fuel emissions.

Wait, what?

Plot twist

Turns out, I knew way less about ozone than I thought I did. I thought ozone only protected the planet from the sun’s radiation. I didn’t know it’s been used as an air and water purifier since the 1800s!

However, this NASA report, I found says that depending on where it is, ozone can be harmful to lung tissue and plants. It could be a pollutant at the Earth’s surface!

To humans, when we breathe in ozone, we risk corroding our lungs.

Am I thinking about this wrong? Or am I getting off-track from learning about all the different things ozone can do?

Can a tesla coil fix the ozone?

At this point, I changed my question. If there’s chance ozone could be a pollutant, maybe a tesla coil can’t fix the ozone. So I googled it.

Tuns out, there was a Reddit thread from seven years ago that asked the same question as I did, but they did it better.

Would tesla coils in the atmosphere repair the ozone layer?

I’ve been thinking about this all wrong as I thought. On the Earth’s surface, it can’t do much. By the time it got to the stratosphere, the ozone would turn back into oxygen.

But the ozone I think of is in the atmosphere. The sun continually makes and destroys ozone all the time because of its radiation. So what if there were tesla coils in the sky?

How many tesla coils does it take to fix the ozone?

As I read through the Reddit thread, I finally got the answer I was looking for.

Tesla Coils directly produce O3 though. However, it depends on what kind of Tesla Coil you use. SSTCs and DRSSTCs produce very little ozone, though they are awesome. SGTCs (Spark Gap Tesla Coil) produces lots of ozone. However, to be able to repair the ozone layer? I doubt it. You would literally need hundreds in a small space running for a really long time. You would have to find a way to suspend all of them in the air, and at the same time, be able to power it for that duration of time. If you just want some ozone to mess with in your garage, electrical arcs are the best way to get it. As a matter of fact, you wouldn’t even need a noisy Tesla Coil (though they are extremely awesome), you would just need a HV arcing source, such as a neon-sign-transformer, or a microwave-oven-transformer.

Finally! I had my answer.

Conclusion

One tesla coil would not do it. I would have to be able to gather hundreds and get them to power them up for a long time. Though, it doesn’t say how long we’d have to power them up.

So, virtually, yes and no. It’ll take more science than expected to make it work effectively.

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I'm a Forever Middle-Child who doesn't have the ability to sit still. I often write about travel, relationships, life, books, food, humor, and life as a fat woman. Women's issues are a passion of mine too. I often write a lot of opinion pieces about what's going on in the world with a little touch of politics. I'll write about anything that comes to mind.

Beaverton, MI
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