Hydrogen and Oxygen from Water

This is how to separate the Hydrogen (H) and Oxygen (O) atoms that are bonded together in water (H2O). The process is surprisingly simple. To do this you will need: water, 1 large jar, a 12 volt battery, a cup to hold water, 2 lengths of copper wire (about 12 inches each), and optionally two pencils (you can decide what you need for tools).

The materials that you use are really not important. You could probably pull this off on a desert island. All you really need is water and electricity. Start by filling your container with about one quart of water.

Connect one twelve inch length of copper wire to each terminal of the battery. Make sure that exposed copper does not touch any exposed copper on the opposite copper lead or they will short out the battery (this causes a spark and produces heat that, if left for to long, may cause irreversible damage to the battery)

Optionally if you remove the graphite rods from the inside of two pencils by scraping the wood away with a knife and then connect the graphite to the end of each copper lead, the water will not become discolored by the metal during the process of breaking molecular bonds.

Another optional ingredient is salt.You can also add salt to speed up the reaction. Keep in mind that adding salt will cause chlorine gas to be produced instead of Oxygen. When salt is added the solution is more conductive. By adding salt you change the distance between the molecules of water and make it easier for them to conduct electricity.

Turn the funnels upside down in the large jar and secure them over each copper lead that is in the water so that the wide end of the funnel is partially submerged. This will channel the gaseous forms of hydrogen and oxygen into separate locations. If you wanted you could put a rubber hose over the smaller ends of each funnel and send the gas to a separate container or something else.

Tip. If you want to channel a particular gas through a tube and you want to make sure that it does not become contaminated by other gases that are already in the tube you will want to fill the tube, funnel, storage container and anything else the gas will pass through with water first. This way, as the gas fills the destined container, it will displace the liquid. This also act as a helpful indicator to see when the container is full.

Observe as bubbles start to form on the wires under each funnel. Also note that as the bubbles continue to form and float to the top, they will be channeled through your tube and displace the water in the end-container.

Hydrogen generation occurs under the tube that has the wire connected to the negative (-) pole of the battery.

Oxygen generation occurs under the tube that has a wire connected to the positive (+) side of the battery.

Given enough time to form a measurable amount of gas, you will note that there is twice the amount of hydrogen generated than oxygen. This is because there are two atoms of hydrogen for every atom of oxygen in water hence the "2" in H2O.

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