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Transforming Elements

  1. Dec 11, 2006 #1
    Hi there,

    I'm trying to figure out how this works but I'm not having much luck. Doesn't help that I'm not a science person to start with, so I'm hoping somebody here can help me out.

    I understand the basic idea that if you have 2 Hydrogen atoms + 1 Oxygen atoms you can somehow convert the 3 seperate atoms to create 1 water molecule.

    But how does that actually happen?

    Does it require a particle accelerator or something to do?

    For what I'm specifically looking to understand is how to break down car emmissions - carbon mon-oxide and carbon di-oxide into their basic atoms of carbon and oxygen.

    But I haven't got a clue how to do it.

    Can somebody provide some insight on how this is actually done?

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 11, 2006 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Thread moved from Tutorials section to Chemistry.
  4. Dec 11, 2006 #3


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    No, just sufficient energy to form covalent bonds. In fact, you can create water using nothing more than a balloon filled with oxygen and hydrogen in a 1:2 ratio and a flame, I'm surprise you've never seen this demonstration.
  5. Dec 11, 2006 #4
    How much energy are we talking about?

    Is energy the only thing that is needed to do this process? I.e. if I have the oxygen and the hydrogen atoms present, I don't need anything else aside from the energy?

    What if I'm trying to do the reverse and split the molecule? I.e. if I'm trying to splie a water molecule into it's hydrogen and oxygen atoms? Does that simply require energy as well?
  6. Dec 11, 2006 #5


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    Yes, lots of energy (think several tens of thousands of degrees in temperature)...but also, some technique to quickly separate the oxygen from hydrogen before they recombine.

    As for breaking down your car emissions - what's the point of that?
  7. Dec 11, 2006 #6

    Depends on what you want to make and how much.

    Yes....but you also need time. A reaction might go in the direction of your product because there is enough energy put into it, but this doesn't mean that it will happen quickly. Some reactions happen spontaneously but take 100s and thousands of years to go to completion. Catalysts offer us a way to make the same reaction go much faster. Kinetic and Thermodynamic perspectives of a reaction can be much much different in certain situations.

  8. Dec 12, 2006 #7


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    Look up the bond enthalpies for H-O bonds. How much chemistry do you know?
  9. Dec 12, 2006 #8


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    CanadianChris, pleasae understand that there is conservation of energy. A car gets the energy to move by changing hydrocarbons and oxygen into (mostly) carbon dioxide and water. Splitting these back into their constituent molecules requires all of the energy that you gained from burning the hydrocarbon in the first place (or even more if you want to keep them in element form).
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