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clean drop of water liquid

Scientists discover spontaneous production of hydrogen peroxide from water

Water is a strange molecule and even after centuries of research, irrespective of the number of strange things discovered about it, there are still unexpected results waiting to be unearthed. In a new case study, researchers in the United States have discovered that under the proper circumstances, water can spontaneously produce hydrogen peroxide which is a strange aspect of fundamental chemistry that was hiding in plain sight, unnoticed till now.  The work appears in PNAS journal.

Richard Zare, a chemist at Stanford University says that since water is one of the most commonly found elements which has been studied for several years, it is normally expected that there is nothing else to learn about it.

Scientists observed the phenomena with pure water, and just any form of water will not do. According to the team, hydrogen peroxide can be produced when water is atomized into microdroplets which measure between 1 micrometer to 20 micrometers in diameter. One micrometer is one-thousandth of a millimeter, hence it is understood that the droplets are very small in size. At this infinitesimal scale, hydrogen peroxide is formed spontaneously even when there is nothing else present apart from water.

For this process, there is no necessity of chemical reagent, catalyst, electrical potential or radiation. The only requirement is pure water in microdroplet form. This phenomenon was discovered accidentally in previous research while investigating how gold nanoparticles and nanowires can be produced using water droplets. Those experiments revealed that water microdroplets besides accelerating the synthesis of the gold nanostructures also results in their spontaneous formation.

Zare’s team conducted several tests such as spraying pure water microdroplets on a test strip which turned blue if hydrogen peroxide was present. The yield of hydrogen peroxide production was inversely proportional to the size of microdroplet. Researchers think that the spontaneous oxidation of water takes place due to the presence of strong intrinsic electric field between water and air microdroplets, where hydroxyl radicals combine to form hydrogen peroxide in the presence of an electric field.

Further research is needed to test this hypothesis, although there is no ambiguity regarding the generation of hydrogen peroxide itself. This could lead to more eco-friendly ways of producing hydrogen peroxide. Research like this opens doors to innovative opportunities such as green and affordable production of hydrogen peroxide, environment-friendly synthesis of chemicals, safe cleaning and food processing. This is a surprising discovery even to someone such as Zare who himself holds 11 honorary doctorates and considers it to be one of the most significant discoveries.

Research Paper: Spontaneous generation of hydrogen peroxide from aqueous microdroplets

Whitelee wind farm

Scotland is generating enough wind energy to power two Scotlands

Motivated from numerous renewable energy records and landmarks achieved, another milestone has been achieved in the first half of 2019. The country Scotland has produced enough energy from wind power which can power its homes twice.

For a nation which is home to 2.6 million people, producing 9.8 million Megawatt-hours of electricity by using turbines in the time period between January and June which is the adequate power supply to 4.47 million homes is a notable achievement. The record high wind energy is capable of providing enough electricity for every home in Scotland and also most part of Northern England for the first six months of the year. The month with the highest production was March with 2,194,981 Megawatt-hours (MWh) of output.

Robin Parker, the Climate & Energy Policy Manager at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said that everyone is benefitting from cleaner energy and atmosphere throughout the country and also seeing those incredible statistics, Scotland’s wind energy revolution seems to boost up. Moreover, he added that the data shows that utilising Scotland’s abundant coastal wind potential could supply eco-friendly electricity for millions of houses in both Scotland as well as England.

In the field of renewable energy, the United Kingdom (UK) has just achieved its longest span without depending on coal energy since the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. According to the National Grid in the UK, for seven days and a total of 167 consecutive hours in a row, coal power stations didn’t supply them energy in which gas turbines, nuclear power, solar energy and other renewables played a part.

Scotland could play a big role in the UK government’s aim of producing energy without coal completely by 2025.

With huge funding in the wind and solar, Germany and other nations are benefiting with increased demand and the possibility of renewable energy production. Qinghai Province in northwest China which is home to five million has been operating for weeks on renewable sources like solar, wind and hydropower.

With the increased ability and more productive technology, scientists discover the ways to produce more electricity with existing solar or wind. With coastal farms at a potential of 8,423 Mega-Watt (MW) as of December 2018, Scotland is a groundbreaker in terms of wind power and hopefully, within next 12 months, they will supply all of its energy from renewables. Alex Wilcox Brooke, Weather Energy Project Manager at Severn Wye Energy Agency said that those statistics actually highlight the compatibility of wind energy in Scotland and its significance in the UK energy market.