Extracting Hydrogen from water

Philip Miller Tate Philmt59 at aol.com
Mon Mar 22 17:59:49 CDT 2010

On 22 Mar 2010, at 21:17, Mike O'Dell wrote:

> as for how catalysts work, it's about as close to magic as
> physical chemistry comes. that's an entire sub-specialty
> of chemistry - "catalysts and surface reactions". i know just
> enough to know that i don't know squat about it.

The curse of catalysts is that too many people - including qualified  
engineers - believe that there must always be a magic catalyst that  
makes the impossible possible, and nothing could be further from the  
truth. A few years ago, a couple of engineering students approached  
me and a colleague to help them design their dream of a machine that  
would fly endlessly over the surface of Mars, "using CO2 from the  
martian atmosphere as fuel". When we explained that CO2 can't be used  
as a fuel, other than by compressing or heating it, which requires  
fuel, they both looked up brightly and said, "but surely there's a  
catalyst that can do it!". Sorry, lads, the answer is NO. A major  
success of thermodynamics is it's ability to separate events into two  
categories; those that can happen, and those that can't. At which  
point, enter the nutcases.

Phil M1GWZ

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