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H2O - The Mystery, Art, and Science of Water

The Chemistry of Water
The Hydrogen and Oxygen of Water

Hydrogen + Oxygen = Water

The simple statement that water is made from hydrogen and oxygen doesn't give us a very clear picture of what really goes into the creation of a molecule of water. A quick look at the chemical equation for the formation of water tells us more.

2H2 + O2 = 2H2O

It takes two molecules of the diatomic hydrogen gas, combined with one molecule of the diatomic oxygen gas to produce two molecules of water. In other words the ratio of hydrogen to oxygen is 2:1, the ratio of hydrogen to water is 1:1, and the ratio of oxygen to water is 1:2.
There's something more though that doesn't show up in the equation. Energy. The formation of water from it's elements produces, in addition to water, a tremendous amount of energy, 572 kJ to be exact.

2H2 + O2 = 2H2O + ENERGY

This is an example of an exothermic reaction, a reaction that produces energy. It is also an example of what is called a combustion reaction, where a substance (in this case hydrogen gas) is combined with oxygen. You are probably familiar with this reaction through two tragic examples of the unleashed energy of the combustion reaction of hydrogen, the Hindenburg, and the spaceshuttle Challenger.

Hydrogen Fuel?

Yes - hydrogen is a good, clean fuel, producing only water as a by-product. Unfortunately it produces so much energy that it can get out of control, resulting in an explosion. But let's forget about that explosive part for a minute and think about the possibilities - Hydrogen as a New Clean Fuel - it could be the end of the energy crisis - but where would we get the hydrogen?

Can we create Hydrogen from Water?

Oh Yes! It's the same chemical reaction, but run in reverse:

2H2O + ENERGY = 2H2 + O2

Notice now that the requirement is for energy to be ADDED TO the reactants. This is an example of an Endothermic reaction. This means that we could use Water as a Fuel! IF (and this is a big if) we could find an easy way to convert the water to hydrogen and oxygen, then the hydrogen could be used as a clean fuel.
One way to convert Water to Hydrogen and Oxygen is through the process of Electrolysis - using electricity as the source of energy to drive the reaction.

Isn't this rather circular?

Using Energy to break water to form hydrogen to combine oxygen to form Energy - in this way is rather circular. In fact, because of the laws of thermodynamics, you can't break even in this exchange of energy. However, there exist better ways to disassemble water - namely using CATALYSIS.

What does a catalyst do?

A catalyst is a chemical compound that acts to speed up a reaction, but in the process is not itself changed. Therefore the catalyst, at the end of the reaction, is free to act again to assist another reactant through the reaction.

Catalysts work by lowering the energy barrier between the reactants and the products. In this case:

2H2O + ENERGY = 2H2 + O2

where it normally takes a tremendous amount of energy to convert reactants to products - the addition of a catalyst can decrease the amount of energy required and therefore speed the reaction up!

2H2O + CATALYST+ energy = 2H2 + O2 + CATALYST
Does this catalyst really exist?

Sort of...... Have you ever wondered how a plant uses water and carbon dioxide to create glucose and oxygen? This too is an endothermic reaction, an energy producing reaction run in reverse. Normally we would think of using glucose as a fuel, through oxidation we could produce carbon dioxide, water and energy - In fact this is what OUR bodies do to provide us with the energy we need for maintaining all of our bodily functions including THINKING!

Glucose (C6H12O6) + Oxygen (O2) = Water (H20) + Carbon Dioxide (CO2) + ENERGY

To run the reaction in reverse, the plant utilizes a catalyst - CHLOROPHYLL - and the energy from the SUN to aid in the decomposition of water. While the chlorophyllic reaction does produce diatomic oxygen gas, it does not produce the hydrogen in a gaseous form. The hydrogen released from the water is used for the formation of glucose.

Could we use such a catalyst for converting Water and Sunlight into Fuel?

Scientists often use Nature as a model for the development of new compounds. One such development, which has been studied extensively in this regard, is a molecule known as Rubippy. The structure of Rubippy is shown below. It is similar in structure to the chlorophyll molecule having a metal center (in chlorophyll it's a magnesium ion, in rubippy it's a ruthenium ion) and an attached system of organic rings (in chlorophyll its a porphyrin derivative, in rubippy its a pyridine derivative).

Acting as "relay" channel for the transfer of electrons, Rubippy has shown some potential to do just that - convert water and sunlight into a clean, seemingly inexhaustible, source of energy. However, while rubippy has shown promise in this regard, it is not a commercially viable enterprise because of it's high cost, instability, and low efficiency.

If Scientists were able to get Rubippy to work, or created a viable alternative, what would we do about the explosion potential of using Hydrogen Fuel?

Good question! Would you believe that it is possible to do the combustion of hydrogen without letting the oxygen and hydrogen come in contact? This can happen in a FUEL CELL. A fuel cell is like a battery - It utilizes a chemical reaction to produce electricity

The kind of fuel cell shown here are routinely used in the space program. If this technology ever becomes viably available to the common person, the estimated cost of a fuel-cell hydrogen powered car would be less than half that of your current gas-mobile. In addition, it would be simpler, require less maintenance, and be environmentally friendly!
The Only One Who Can Beat Me Is Meh . !

Thanks for the information.. really worth sharing
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O'Sum information !!

Nice Sharing Smile
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Thanks for the information.. really worth sharing

My pleasure ! Wink
The Only One Who Can Beat Me Is Meh . !

O'Sum information !!

Nice Sharing Smile

Thanks Smile
The Only One Who Can Beat Me Is Meh . !
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