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Q & A: Water = Hydrogen + Oxygen

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
How can I extract the hydrogen and oxygen from water using electricity? I know you need to use two different metals and electricity but im not sure how... Thankyou for taking the time to answer my question!
- David Levine
Brick, NJ, USA
A:
The easiest way to split up hydrogen and oxygen from water is called electrolysis. The equipment looks like 2 upside down burettes that are sealed at the bottom. They are connected by a tube almost at the bottom. In the middle, there is a tube so that everything won't overflow. At the point in each upside down burette where the crosswise tube connects, there is the metal you were talking about. These strips of metal are connected to an electrical DC power supply, which is what makes the whole thing work.

Hydrogen will gather in one tube and oxygen will gather in the other. It takes a while, but you would see that one side has about twice as much gas as the other. That's the one with hydrogen. (Remember, water has the chemical symbol H2O. That means that there is twice as much hydrogen as oxygen).

The University of Illinois Department of Chemistry has a great web site that shows this:


http://www.chem.uiuc.edu/demos/elec.html


Adam

(published on 10/22/2007)

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