Science Questions

Gasses from water

Sun, 29th Oct 2006

Part of the show Superconductivity and Cooling Devices

Question

Tim via email asked:

I've come across a website for a gas made using water, that ignites but is not hydrogen. I was wondering what your take was on this.

Answer

I think it's acetylene. People who go pot holing or are miners have miners lamps that use acetylene. That is made by using calcium carbide, which is calcium with a couple of carbons stuck onto it. When you drip water onto it, it reacts to make acetylene - two carbon atoms stuck to two hydrogen atoms - and it burns very brightly. I think that's probably what you're talking about.

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