Science Questions

Is any new water being formed on our planet?

Sun, 8th Jan 2012

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Question

David, Norwich asked:

Is any new water being formed on our planet?

Answer

Chris -   The answer is yes, there is. 

The process of, if we say, respiration – that's the best example –  if you look at the metabolic processes that are going on in every single living thing on Earth, what we’re largely doing is burning a fuel - lets take sugar, glucose, C6H12O6, and we react it with oxygen (O2) and the products of that reaction are CO2, carbon dioxide, and you've guessed it, H2O. 

So what you've effectively done is you've rearranged some of the atoms in the sugar molecule, mixed them with some oxygen and you've made some water de novo

So, there is water coming out of that reaction and at the same time you've got plants which are gathering energy coming in from the sun and they're using the process of photosynthesis to drive the reverse reaction so they're taking carbon dioxide out of the air, they are mixing it with water which they've got from their roots, and if you take the CO2 and the H2O, and the energy from water to drive the equation the other way, you then get – you've guessed it, C6H12O6, you're back to glucose again.  So, although there are no new atoms being made on Earth, there are nonetheless, new arrangements of those atoms, new molecules, so you are making water which didn’t exist before by rearranging the atoms

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