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In the idyllic Shasta Valley, on the other side of Butcher Hill from Yreka, California, a nondescript warehouse building houses one of the most advanced water filtration companies in the world: Ozotech.
“We like it here in Yreka,” Ozotech President Steve Christiansen says with a wink. “We can keep our technology safe because nobody can find it.”
Then Christiansen lights up the Corona Discharge Cell to demonstrate. It’s a 3-foot glass tube wrapped in a perforated metal grid. When Christiansen connects the electricity, a center cathode radiates a blue electric shock that looks like something out of Dr. Frankenstein’s lab. What's he up to? Ozotech uses ozone to disinfect water — without using chemicals.
One of the most common applications for Ozotech filters is one of its customers: Aquafina bottled water. Add ozone to the water during bottling, put a cap on it, and by the time it’s opened, the water is disinfected and ready to drink. “The byproduct is highly-dissolved oxygen in the water, and that’s a benefit for taste,” Christiansen says.
Ozotech filters are also used in homes across the Midwest where high sulfur levels make the water smell like eggs. After ozone filtration, the odor is gone (along with the sulphur). Even large aquariums like Sea World and the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago use Ozotech filtration devices. Now, hundreds of schools in California are starting to use Ozotech washers that disinfect produce without chemicals.
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Doing business on a global scale requires a lot of communication and Ozotech uses the Internet for every aspect of their business.
“We’re completely dependent on the Internet,” Christiansen says. “We’re sending specs, sending things to manufacturers, communicating internally. We couldn’t work without it.”
Because of Ozotech’s remote location, they were faced with one of two options: continual bandwidth problems from their old provider or paying tens of thousands of dollars for them to improve the infrastructure. Luckily there was a third option: Ozotech has two buildings and their other facility is close to Cal-Ore’s fiber line. “Cal-Ore hooked us up to fiber at our other building, then a line-of-sight connection to this building,” Christiansen says. “It’s working very well.”