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Experiment Shows Desalination Plants Could Produce Hydrogen


saltwatersysAs the world’s potable water resources thin each year, scientists strive to decypher ways to use the immense amounts of water that abound the oceans and seas, and to make them drinkable. All that desalination process consumes energy resources, and that makes water more expensive to produce and drink in some parts of the world.

Physicist Roberto de Luca from the University of Salerno, in Italy, has thought of a way that uses magnets to get burnable hydrogen out of salt water. Here’s how his lab tests worked.

De Luca forced salt water through a thin rectangular pipe. That pipe has two electrodes on one side and the other. When a magnetic force was applied to the conductive salt water, it acted like a regular wire, producing an electromotive force. This electromotive force produced an electrolysis, and broke apart water into hydrogen and oxygen.

“I started considering the question Dr. Pasquale Desideri, a Roman chemist, asked,” De Luca told PhysOrg.com. “If a transverse magnetic field is applied to salt water flowing in a thin rectangular pipe, would an electromotive force appear at the sides of the pipe itself? This question was interesting both from a didactical and a scientific point of view. Didactically, one could come up with an interdisciplinary lecture, making a comparison between the electrical transport properties of the ‘Fermi sea’ (the collection of free electrons in a metal) and the ‘ordinary sea’ (which a physicist could conceive as a collection of rather free Na+ and Cl- ionic charges diluted in water, besides a place to go in summertime).”

Hydrogen, as we all know, could be used in whatever purpose, even helping power the desalination plants, normally powered by oil-based fuels.

I don’t know what the power output of such a device would be, but it’s a great idea to produce hydrogen, anyway.

Thanks to Hydro Kevin for also presenting this idea on his always-inspiring hydrogen blog.

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