11 June 2013

Can water be pressurized to form hydrogen?

Recent research from Malcom Guthrie, of the Carnegie Institute for Science, in conjunction with Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Spallation Neutron Source has provided new insight into the ways by which water can be split into its component elements, hydrogen and oxygen.

The work uses a stream of high-energy neutrons to observe what happens to hydrogen atoms (i.e. individual protons) when ice is pressurized to extreme levels -- 500,000 times atmospheric pressure.  Because ice crystallizes through hydrogen bonds, these extreme pressures were once predicted to provide an alternative mechanism for water dissociation by direct, high-strength hydrogen-hydrogen bonding.  These predictions appear to have proven true.

Could this:  

be pressurized to become this?

What does this imply for the future of hydrogen production?  My first thought is that these extreme pressures -- half a MILLION times atmospheric pressure -- may make this work impractical for use in real-life situations.  But what if similar effects were observed at more manageable levels -- say, 100 or 1000 times atmospheric pressure.  Could these effects provide a more economical, less energy-intensive mechanism for producing and storing hydrogen molecules, instead of low-efficiency electrolysis?

Source from Carnegie: https://carnegiescience.edu/news/unfrozen_mystery_h2o_reveals_new_secret


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