• Question: Would it be ever possible to create an automatic machine to fuse Hydrogen atoms and Oxygen atoms to create water without any damage to the environment?

    Asked by insaneharry to Ivan, James, Jessica, Nicola, Sarah on 12 Nov 2013.
    • Photo: Sarah Tesh

      Sarah Tesh answered on 12 Nov 2013:

      Theoretically, yes but it’s a dangerous process.

      Just mixing the two gases up doesn’t do the trick – you need a burst of energy to make the atoms join. As hydrogen is extremely flammable (can catch fire easily) and oxygen helps things burn, all that is needed is a spark to provide the energy and then you have water! But you also have an explosion. And it would be a BIG explosion. To make enough water to help the world’s problems would be very dangerous and would require a HUGE scale experiment.

      Then again, with science anything’s possible with time. Just think about everything that’s been invented over the 10 years alone – we can now print in 3D, we have smart phones that can take voice commands and cars can run on electricity. There have been so many inventions doing what our ancestors would have thought impossible, so you never know what might be possible in the future.

    • Photo: Nicola Potts

      Nicola Potts answered on 13 Nov 2013:

      I’m a little out of my area of expertise here but I would imagine with any combustion you create water (as steam etc). However, that combustion can be really dangerous – effectively a really big bomb.

      One of the other scientists will have to correct me if I am wrong!?

    • Photo: James King

      James King answered on 13 Nov 2013:

      Hi Insane Harry. As the others have mentioned water (steam) is produced in the combustion process. The tricky part is the second part of your sentence that requires there to be no damage to the environment! The likely work around for producing water without any damage to the environment with the technology we have today is with a desalination plant running on renewable energy. Fusing Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms is risky business!

    • Photo: Jessica Liley

      Jessica Liley answered on 15 Nov 2013:

      Manufacturing water this way would be an amazing feat, if it was safe. We could make clean drinking water for poorer countries where it often isn’t safe to drink, or for some places which don’t have it at all. But as Sarah, Nicci and James have said, making water out of hydrogen and oxygen isn’t going to happen just yet, it’s just too dangerous a process involving huge explosions.

      I’ve just been reading about other inventive ways people have got water out of thin air… like the Australian inventor Max Whisson who made a big windmill to suck the water vapour out of the air and turn it into liquid water! Sounds great but this needs lots of diesel fuel to run it, also pretty bad for the environment 🙁