Hydrogen Production through Electrolysis
“How can we produce hydrogen using electricity?”
Hydrogen is an amazing material. However, extracting it can be quite difficult. One way to do it is to take an anode and a cathode separated by an electrolyte and a membrane. The water will react at the anode to produce oxygen and positively charged hydrogen ions. The electrons will flow through the circuit and the hydrogen ions will move across the membrane to the cathode side. They will then meet and recombine to form hydrogen molecules. This way, we can Produce Hydrogen using Electrolysis. Since the only thing that needs to be added to the system is electricity, if our grid is powered by renewables then we can have a carbon neutral method of hydrogen production!
Image credit Department of Energy
Natural Gas Reforming
“How can we obtain Hydrogen from Natural Gas?”
Hydrogen is just as difficult to extract as it is useful. But luckily, there is one method which is able to produce it in a cost effective manner. Most of this is done in a process where high-temperature steam (700°C–1,000°C) is combined with a methane source such as Natural Gas under high pressures (around 2-35 bar) to produce hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and a relatively small amount of carbon dioxide. This process is known as Natural Gas Reforming and is used to create 95% of the natural gas supplies in the U.S.
Image Credit: ceram.material.tohoku.ac.
How can we obtain Hydrogen Fuel?
“How can we obtain Hydrogen Fuel?”
Hydrogen Fuel (H2) is an invaluable resource. Whether it be for powering hydrogen fuel cell batteries or making agricultural fertilizer. However, because of its special bonding properties, pure hydrogen is incredibly difficult to extract. So how can we use our engineering mindset to solve this problem? Well, there are a number of different ways. Natural gas can be reacted with high-temperature steam to for water to create H2 and Co, a very high power electric current can split water into dihydrogen and oxygen, Renewable liquid fuels, such as ethanol, can be reacted with high-temperature steam to obtain H2, and biological fermentation can occur. In the end there are many ways to make our desired fuel in a safe and economical manner.
“What is one of the most fundamental radioactive elements?”
In celebration of International Women’s Day, we here at Isaac’s Science Blog thought that it would be appropriate to talk about one of Marie Curie’s most famous discoveries, the element Radium. Radium is a soft, shiny and silvery radioactive metal that belongs in the second group and seventh period of the periodic table. Although it is now deemed to be too radioactive for common use, it used to be used as a paint for clock and watch dials. The discovery of Radium led Marie Curie to receive a Nobel Prize. However, due to not patenting the element, she received few monetary benefits (despite kickstarting an entire industry). In fact, her intense work with the radioactive element had ravaged her health. Never the less, we must honor her work, and spend this International Women’s Day thinking about the countless sacrifices that women have made to advance our knowledge of science.
The Strange Second State of Water
“Can water have a second liquid state?”
Water is a most peculiar molecular compound. Although this material composes over sixty percent of the human body and the vast majority of the Earth’s surface area, we still know very little about the chemical and physical properties and behaviors of this element. And this idea could not be better exemplified by a most recent discovery lead by a highly intelligent group of scientists.
At Oxford University, A group of physicists led by the postdoctoral research assistant Laura Martinez Maestro had decided to conduct a new experiment on water (Crew, Bec). For this, they took a sample of water at zero degrees Celsius and increased the temperature slowly until it reached one hundred degrees Celsius while measuring the thermal conductivity, refractive index, conductivity, surface tension, and the dielectric constant. Once the water hit, 40 degrees Celsius, its properties started to shift drastically, and once it had hit 60 degrees Celsius all of its properties had changed into something new. Specifically, the temperature of change was 64 degrees Celsius for thermal conductivity, 50 degrees Celsius for refractive index, about 53 degrees Celsius for conductivity, and 57 degrees Celsius for surface tension.
Why does this happen? Although everything seems murky at the moment, this phenomenon might be a consequence of the fact that water molecules only have a very weak bond with one another, and that the bond between oxygen and hydrogen is far greater than the hydrogen-hydrogen bonding. As a result, the molecular structure of molecules is constantly changing and reforming, leading many to believe that this might be the cause for the strange second stage of matter
Crew, Bec. “Physicists Just Discovered a Second State of Liquid Water.” ScienceAlert, ScienceAlert, 14 Nov. 2016, http://www.sciencealert.com/physicists-just-discovered-a-second-state-of-liquid-water.
“Can we use paint to make energy?”
Paint is usually seen as just a covering used to keep mold away or for making art. However, is it possible to do more with this material? Well, let’s analyze this using our scientific mindset. If we were to mix in titanium oxide into paint, then it would be capable of absorbing sunlight to convert the moisture into hydrogen and oxygen, therefore allowing for the consumption of hydrogen energy. This tecnology is currently being developed by a team at RMIT in Australia and could revolutionize sustainable energy generation, allowing for easy residential level consumption!
Chemical activity series
“How can we predict if an atom will react with another atom or not?”
If you ever decide to take a chemistry class, you will probably have to solve a lot of chemical reactions sets. However, have you ever wondered whether or not if these sets can be achieved or not? Well, in the natural world, it has been empirically investigated that some elements are more reactive with others. And in fact, this has found to be a linear correlation. To illustrate, let’s say that elements x is more reactive than element y which is more reactive than element z, then element x will also be more reactive with element z. If you put together an entire list of all of the reactivities of the periodic table of elements, you would build something that is called a reactivity series. The most reactive element is fluorine [F], and the least reactive metal is neon[Ne]