Rensselaer Experiment Finds Water Molecules Are Always H2O

June 13, 2005

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Ben-Gurion University in Israel have published results of a new experiment that found water molecules are made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, even during very short time intervals. The results dispute previous claims made by another research group suggesting a change in the chemical formula of water.
A research group from Technical University of Berlin, Rutherford Laboratory near Oxford, and Uppsala University in Sweden had previously published research findings indicating that water behaves as if it has lost half a hydrogen atom at very brief time intervals, briefly changing the chemical formula from H2O to H1.5O.

The effect was revealed through a strong neutron scattering anomaly, which they claimed to have observed.

To address the problem, Rensselaer-Ben-Gurion researchers used neutrons, produced by the electron linear accelerator at Rensselaer’s Gaerttner LINAC Laboratory, to compare the scattering of neutrons from light water molecules (H2O) and heavy water molecules (D2O). Researchers found that the scattering of neutrons behaved normally and they did not detect any deficiency in the effective number of hydrogen atoms in the water molecules. The exposure time of neutrons to the hydrogen nucleus during these experiments was less than 0.001 femtoseconds. A femtosecond is one quadrillionth of a second or 10-15 second.

“This new experiment provides evidence that water is accurately described as H2O, even at very short time intervals,” said Raymond Moreh, visiting scholar in Rensselaer’s nuclear engineering and engineering physics program and professor of physics at Ben-Gurion University. “The strong neutron scattering anomaly claimed by an earlier group was not found in our research. Our new finding has far-reaching and profound effects in physics and chemistry.”

The members of the Rensselaer research team were: Robert Block, director of the Gaerttner LINAC Laboratory and professor emeritus of nuclear engineering; Yaron Danon, assistant professor of nuclear engineering; and Matthew Neuman, senior undergraduate student in nuclear engineering.

The research findings were published in Physical Review Letters on May 13 in a paper titled “Search for Anomalous Scattering of keV Neutrons from H2O-D2O Mixtures.”

Source: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Explore further: The protein problem

Related Stories

The protein problem

June 17, 2015

The importance of proteins is difficult to overstate; they play a critical role in countless biological processes. An enhanced understanding of their structure and function is essential to advancing the state of the art in ...

Scientists unveil the structure of myelin

June 17, 2015

New research has shed light on the way in which our nerves conduct electrical signals around our bodies. The structure of myelin, the layer of insulating fat surrounding nerve cells of vertebrates, has now been analysed in ...

Seeds from Moringa oleifera trees used to purify water

December 5, 2013

Seeds from Moringa oleifera trees can be used to purify water. Uppsala University leads a research group which has discovered that seed material can give a more efficient purification process than conventional synthetic materials ...

A new technique for understanding quantum effects in water

October 3, 2011

It covers over two thirds of our planet, is essential for life on Earth and its chemical formula is one of the few most people can name, but we still have much to learn about the structure of H2O. Now, scientists working ...

Recommended for you

A cataclysmic event of a certain age

July 27, 2015

At the end of the Pleistocene period, approximately 12,800 years ago—give or take a few centuries—a cosmic impact triggered an abrupt cooling episode that earth scientists refer to as the Younger Dryas.

New blow for 'supersymmetry' physics theory

July 27, 2015

In a new blow for the futuristic "supersymmetry" theory of the universe's basic anatomy, experts reported fresh evidence Monday of subatomic activity consistent with the mainstream Standard Model of particle physics.

Dense star clusters shown to be binary black hole factories

July 29, 2015

The coalescence of two black holes—a very violent and exotic event—is one of the most sought-after observations of modern astronomy. But, as these mergers emit no light of any kind, finding such elusive events has been ...

Image: Hubble sees a dying star's final moments

July 31, 2015

A dying star's final moments are captured in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The death throes of this star may only last mere moments on a cosmological timescale, but this star's demise is still quite ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.