Voltage breakdown of distilled water

In summary: So the potential at the working electrode is lower then the potential at the counter electrode by a factor of two.In summary, distilled water has a DC breakdown voltage of around 5 volts.
  • #1
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I can't seem to find this value...

Does anyone know what the DC breakdown voltage of distilled water is at standard temp and pressure.

Thanks
 
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  • #2
It's not very well defined as it depends critically on the surface finish of the electrodes since any irregularities cause cavitation which start a breakdown.

There is some data here http://www.waterfuelconverters.com/SandiaNationalLabsData.html
 
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  • #3
Don't forget "distilled water" is quite often not what you think it is. In fact it can be distilled, or RO or DI water. Then, it can be ultra pure water. Each of these has slightly different combination of contaminants (similar, but not repetable between samples from different sources).

Next problem: such water if allowed to contact with air, quite fast gets saturated with carbon dioxide. That lowers pH to around 5.5, changing half reaction potentials. In theory these changes should cancel out (same change on both electrodes), but you have to know that you are no longer working with pure water.

Next problem: really pure water has very high specific resistance (ultra pure is sometimes listed as 18MΩ water, not without a reason). While it doesn't change half reaction potentials, it forces you to use high voltage just to force any current flowing through the system.

And finally - as mgb_phys pointed out - a lot depends on the electrode material and finish. As far as I am aware it hasn't anything to do with cavitation, rather with activation energy, google electrochemical overvoltage.
 
  • #4
Thank you for your replies, do any of you know off hand if there is a way to mathematically derive a lower limit on the strength of the E-Field or Potential based on the assumption you only have H2O and electrode effects do not exist?
 
  • #5
Borek said:
As far as I am aware it hasn't anything to do with cavitation, rather with activation energy, google electrochemical overvoltage.
Interesting - I had assumed it was microbubbles.
 
  • #6
axawire said:
Thank you for your replies, do any of you know off hand if there is a way to mathematically derive a lower limit on the strength of the E-Field or Potential based on the assumption you only have H2O and electrode effects do not exist?

Check Nernst equation. You have two half reactions - oxidation and reduction going on on two electrodes. Each half reaction has its own potential - these are given in standard half reaction potential tables. You have to account for pH, as standard potentials are given for standard state, which means pH=0. Then there is ohmic drop. Potential needed for both simultaneous reactions is in the range of volt or two.



 

1. What is voltage breakdown of distilled water?

Voltage breakdown of distilled water is the point at which the electric field applied to the water is strong enough to cause the molecules to break apart, creating charged particles and allowing electricity to flow through the water.

2. Why does voltage breakdown occur in distilled water?

Voltage breakdown occurs in distilled water because it is a poor conductor of electricity, meaning it has a high resistance. This high resistance causes a build-up of electric field, which eventually becomes strong enough to break apart the water molecules.

3. How is the voltage breakdown of distilled water measured?

The voltage breakdown of distilled water is typically measured in kilovolts per millimeter (kV/mm). This is the amount of voltage needed to cause breakdown in a specific distance of the water.

4. Can the voltage breakdown of distilled water be predicted?

Yes, the voltage breakdown of distilled water can be predicted by using the Paschen curve, which shows the relationship between voltage and distance for different gases and liquids. This curve can be used to determine the breakdown voltage for a specific distance in distilled water.

5. What are the effects of voltage breakdown on distilled water?

Voltage breakdown of distilled water can result in the production of highly reactive ions, which can cause chemical reactions and potentially damage electronic equipment. It can also lead to the formation of gas bubbles and increase in temperature, which can cause the water to boil or even explode.

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