Can man create water?

Let’s say, somehow, all water was gone. Would it be possible for man to create new water in labs and the such? I’ve always wondered, and just thought I’d ask!

Burn some hydrogen. Burning anything that contains hydrogen works too.

When the Hindenburg caught fire at Lakehurst, NJ, in 1937, there were droplets of water on the wreckage, created when the hydrogen in the bags burned in the open air. Obviously, this is a particularly costly way to make a point… :frowning:

How do you mean, all water gone? Like, all potable water? Or all instances of hydrogen combined with oxygen in a ratio of two atoms to one?

In the first case, there are a variety of water cleansing solutions, from chemical or mechanical filtering to distillation.

In the second, the man in question would be 50-80% lighter, depending on the source you care to quote for percent water in the body. It’s a great way to get rid of that beer gut, but the synapses don’t fire in a drought.
The other answer is: save water – drink beer.

Of course we now know that Hindenburg’s problem was not from flammable hydrogen. The whole damned craft was painted with rocket fuel! The silver paint was nitrocellulose mixed with metal powder. Put that stuff in your Estes rocket, and it will go hypersonic. It would have been better if they had painted Hindenburg with gunpowder, since at least gunpowder won’t go off when damp.

Search on +hindenberg +“rocket fuel” and you’ll find lots of articles about this. The guy who tracked it down actually obtained some of the original Hindenburg skin with the silver paint, and yes, it did burn like rocket fuel when ignited. Lucky they didn’t get any minor lightning strikes while over the Atlantic, or the Hindenburg would have simply vanished without a trace.

Remember the Hindenburg movie? While watching it, tell yourself “burning hydrogen.” Then play it again, but tell yourself “hydrogen flame is invisible, but the silver skin is a fuel/oxidzer mixture, and is igniting like a high-speed fuse.” Big paradigm shift, eh? Just imagine how many people watched that film but never could actually SEE it.

Just think: a magician scuffs across the rug, then touches a small model of the Hindenburg which is made of flash paper on a metal frame. Spark. Poof! Nothing but the metal frame left behind.

Actually, the combustion of all hydrocarbons creates water and carbon dioxide. In fact, H[sub]2[/sub]O and CO[sub]2[/sub] are the only endproducts when the reaction goes to completion. But since this only happens in basic chemistry texts, we get sulfur dioxide in our rain and nasty black smoke from exhaust pipes.

Creating water is a very simple process, and can happen any time there is free hydrogen and oxygen. As hydrogen and oxygen are present throughout the universe (as products of the fusion in even the smallest stars), water is among the most common compounds in the universe. Comets, for example, contain mainly water, and the rings of the gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) are composed of little else. Tiny ice meteors constantly bombard the atmosphere (and don’t last very long). So the proposition of all water being suddenly gone is extremely tenuous, even for a thought experiment. Finally, as others have pointed out, if all water were to disappear no life as we now know it could exist. Even so, the creation of water through natural means would continue.

Creating water by combining hydrogen and oxygen is easy. Obtaining said hydrogen and oxygen is not so easy.

Warning! Anal pickiness alert!

Derleth said

Actually, a pure hydrocarbon can’t give sulfur dioxide no matter how completely the reaction goes. Sulfur dioxide is the result of complete combustion of sulfur, which is not a component of a pure hydrocarbon. However, most fossil fuels have more or less sulfur along with the pure hydrocarbons, so you do get SO2 from burning them.

The nasty black smoke is indeed the result of incomplete combustion.

And, to be complete, Nitrogen Oxides (which form smog) can also come from combustion, but basically just as a side product of high temperatures.

My turn to nit-pick - it depends on the fuel. Fuel-bound nitrogen can be converted to NOx in large percentages in some fuels, such as…coals, for example (which typically contain from 0.5 to 1.8% nitrogen by mass). The rates of fuel-bound versus air-bound NOx are different, with air-bound NOx production going up in a sharp, exponential curve as the temperature increases past about 2000 F (this varies). Fuel-bound NOx production is a bit more complex, and depends highly on the devolitazation process of the coal, and the char combustion (one big factor is whether the coal particles burn in a constant-volume or constant-density process).

And I won’t even discuss “prompt NOx”, since that applies better to CT’s…

OK - this came up between my son and I a few weeks ago. I have always read (and found recent confirmation on an ecological website) that the earth has a fixed amount of water. How does that mesh with the fact that water is synthesized by, or a by-product of human activities?

If the site really says only that “the Earth has a fixed amount of water”, it is incorrect. Water is added all the time, via space debris and pieces of comet, for one thing. For another, “water” is not a pure element. Water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen. It might be more correct to say that in general, the Earth has a roughly fixed amount of hydrogen and oxygen, much of which is in the form of water. Some is in the form of free gas (esp. in the case of oxygen), and some is fixed in hydrocarbons (such as hydrogen in fossil fuels and organic materials).

Thanks Anthracite - I’ll send my son your post - he’ll be gleeful about it since I “won” the argument.

I can. Just give me a coupla beers for inspiration, and voilà!..