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Q & A: hydrogen peroxide equilibrium

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
how come when you add ozone to water it doesent make hydrogen peroxide?
- Nick (age 14)
JohnJay High, ny
A:
There are several possible things that can happen to ozone (O3) when added to water (H2O).

1. The molecules could stay unchanged.
2. The reaction 3H2O +O3 -> 3H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) could occur.
3. The reaction 2O3 -> 3O2 (oxygen molecules) could occur.

Actually, if you make a sealed container of water and ozone, the answer should come out "all of the above". In chemical equilibrium at least some of each form will be present.

I guess (you really should ask a chemist) that under ordinary pressures and temperatures, the ozone mostly converts to ordinary oxygen, leaving very little hydrogen peroxide.

(As a physicist, I can add that at least some of each type of molecule is expected because the added entropy per molecule is enormous for the first few of any type.)
Mike W.

(published on 10/22/2007)

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