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Author Topic: Help! Electrolysis And Chlorine Gas
JCrudent66
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Icon 11 posted October 25, 2005 19:05      Profile for JCrudent66     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I recently was experimenting with the electolysis of water, and i started using two 9v batteries, a peanut butter jar and copper wiring but the decomposition of water into O2 and H2 was very slow and so I added salt to the water. The production increased tremendously, but then I read online that once you add the salt, it is H2 and Cl2(instead of O2) that are produced.
**Heres the problem**
I have this apparatus set up in a small room in my basement with little, if any ventalation, and I allowed this apparatus to run off of two 9v batteries for about 28 hours, and i spent a great deal of time in this room. Is there a chance that I may have introduced myself to a dangerous amount of chlorine gas? or maybe even introduced my family? Please help me out with this, i'd appreciate it very much.

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John

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i_need_a_pillow
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Icon 1 posted October 25, 2005 20:20      Profile for i_need_a_pillow     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
According to Wikipedia:

Chlorine irritates respiratory systems especially in children and the elderly. In its gaseous state it irritates mucous membranes and when a liquid it burns skin. It takes as little as 3.5 ppm to be detected as a distinct odor, but it takes 1000 ppm or more to be fatal. Because of this, chlorine was one of the gases used during World War I as a war gas. (See: Use of poison gas in World War I)

Exposure to this gas should therefore not exceed 0.5 ppm (8-hour time-weighted average - 40 hour week.).

Acute exposure to high (but non-lethal) concentrations of Chlorine can result in pulmonary edema, or fluid in the lungs, an extremely unpleasant condition. Chronic low-level exposure weakens the lungs, increasing susceptibility to other lung disorders.

I'd say if you haven't noticed anything wrong yet, you probably won't. Still, be careful and see a doctor if something strange develops.

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JCrudent66
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Icon 1 posted October 25, 2005 20:30      Profile for JCrudent66     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
[QUOTE]Originally posted by i_need_a_pillow:
[QB] [QUOTE]According to Wikipedia:

Exposure to this gas should therefore not exceed 0.5 ppm (8-hour time-weighted average - 40 hour week.).


What could I compare .5ppm to so I get an idea if i came close to this.

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Xanthine

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Icon 1 posted October 25, 2005 20:34      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
No idea. But if you can smell it you've got problems.

My advice would be to start doing these experiments in a better ventilated area.

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted October 25, 2005 21:01      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well, if you had a reasonable estimate of the amount of salt you added, and assumed that all of it was converted to Cl2, and further assumed that the basement was a closed container, then you could come up with a worst-case estimate for the mass of Cl2 in the room.

Then, if you estimate the volume of the basement, you can use the Ideal Gas Law (PV=nRT) to calculate the partial pressure of Cl2 in a container of that size. If your result is greater than 5x10-7 atmospheres (or 5x10-2 kPa, as 1 atmosphere approx 100 kPa) then you're over your limit.

Or, you could just open all the windows.

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Doco

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Icon 1 posted October 26, 2005 07:57      Profile for Doco   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Rather than figure out converting all the NaCl to Cl gas it might be more accurate to figure how much energy is available in the batteries and go from there.

That being said - if all you are using is a couple of batteries I wouldn't worry. I did this A LOT in high school but I used a model train transformer so it could go on for days. (Now I use a battery charger... more power!!!) I haven't been able to smell the chlorine gas, even with my nose right above jar. So that tells me the chlorine gas concentration is pretty low - backed by the numbers others have given here. So I wouldn't worry about the Cl gas.

Still - be careful - you can generate a lot of H2 over time and that of course can be "interesting". (and the whole point - right???) Of course being in the basement means that the H2 will go up and disperse fairly quickly.

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maximile

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Icon 1 posted October 26, 2005 09:21      Profile for maximile   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Did you really need to make all that poisonous gas? I mean, I like science to the extent that geek etiquette requires, but wouldn't a minute or two have been enough to see whether or not it works?
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nerdwithnofriends
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Icon 1 posted October 26, 2005 17:49      Profile for nerdwithnofriends     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by maximile:
Did you really need to make all that poisonous gas? I mean, I like science to the extent that geek etiquette requires, but wouldn't a minute or two have been enough to see whether or not it works?

But hydrogen burns. Easily.

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted October 26, 2005 18:45      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Doco:
I did this A LOT in high school but I used a model train transformer so it could go on for days. (Now I use a battery charger... more power!!!) I haven't been able to smell the chlorine gas, even with my nose right above jar. So that tells me the chlorine gas concentration is pretty low

If you read the wikipedia article quoted above, Cl2 is dangerous at levels well below what the average human can smell.

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ASM65816
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Icon 1 posted October 27, 2005 12:23      Profile for ASM65816   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Check for corrosion and precipitates in your setup.

1. If you have aluminum electrodes, a la residential wiring. The chlorine combines with the aluminum. (Been there, done that.) Chlorine reacts with plenty of metals, ruins equipment. I'm sure this applies to copper. Platinum "might" resist corrosion.

2. Chlorine gas dissolves in water. You'll have "bleach" long before there's a health hazard.

3. Assuming that you attempt to collect the oxygen, any chlorine gas produced would also collect in the "oxygen" container. For "fun," switch the salt water with pure water and mark the level of gas in the container. If there's significant chlorine in the container, the water level should rise as the chlorine dissolves in the water.

Don't Drink the Water. ... other than that I'd say you and your family are safe. [Wink]

PS: Put vinegar in the water instead of salt.

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Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted October 27, 2005 12:52      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
White vinegar or apple cider vinegar?

'Cause now I'm curious to see what would happen!

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JCrudent66
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Icon 7 posted October 27, 2005 15:10      Profile for JCrudent66     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks a lot, everyone was a big help, and i'll try that vinegar.

Now i am going to use an outlet when i do this(instead of batteries), and i have an AC to AC converter, and an AC to DC converter, which one should i use so i get oxygen and hydrogen seperated, cause doesn't one of them produce the hydrogen and the oxygen in the same mixture? - i def do not want that.... thanks for the help

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JCrudent66
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Icon 1 posted October 27, 2005 15:12      Profile for JCrudent66     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
And also, is there anything else beside vinegar that i can put in the water to make it more conductive and that won't produce a "bio hazard" lol

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John

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Icon 1 posted October 27, 2005 17:05      Profile for DoctorWho     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
baking soda

The reaction will produce carbon dioxide and sodium hydroxide, more commonly known as lye. What can you do with the lye? You could always make soap. Just make sure you store the lye carefully and keep lemon juice or vinegar around in case any spills to neutralize it because that stuff can give you a nasty chemical burn. If you don't want to make soap, you could always pour the lye down a drain that needs unclogging. Oh yeah, I don't want to assume, but if you are playing around with electrolysis, and if you plan to use baking soda, please protect your eyes, wear long sleves and latex gloves.

Edit: On second thought, disregard my post. I forgot, that stuff can be a fire hazard if not handled properly.

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JCrudent66
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Icon 1 posted October 27, 2005 21:47      Profile for JCrudent66     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have a SONY AC POWER ADAPTOR that has INPUT: AC 120V 60Hz 4.5W OUTPUT: DC 9v 300mA
and it says on the adaptor "PLUG-IN POWER SUPPLY FOR USE WITH SONY TELEPHONE" Will this one work for the electrolysis of water into hydrogen and oxygen from each terminal?

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John

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Icon 1 posted October 28, 2005 06:51      Profile for drunkennewfiemidget     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by CrawGator:
Just make sure you store the lye carefully and keep lemon juice or vinegar around in case any spills to neutralize it because that stuff can give you a nasty chemical burn.

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Icon 1 posted October 28, 2005 08:45      Profile for Doco   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If you want to keep the H2 and O2 separate then you need a DC converter.

Really almost any "contaminent" will create more ion's in the water and speed up the reaction. That is why Salt, Soda, Vinegar (a mild acid) will all work. Pick one and just be careful (i.e. don't drink the liquid afterwards) and you should be ok.

BTW - don't fill a big container with H2 gas.... and do as I say, not as I do. [Wink]

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JCrudent66
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Icon 5 posted October 28, 2005 09:11      Profile for JCrudent66     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Doco:
If you want to keep the H2 and O2 separate then you need a DC converter.

So is what i have(the adaptor i posted above)ok?
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Icon 1 posted October 28, 2005 10:48      Profile for Doco   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Give the adapter a try. Don't leave unattended at first because the adapter might overheat.

It *shouldn't* overheat if it was designed properly - it *should* protect itself from overheating even in a short circuit scenario. But "should" and "will" are two different things, especially when you are talking about cheaply made consumer grade devices.

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JCrudent66
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Icon 1 posted October 29, 2005 12:00      Profile for JCrudent66     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
is 6 inches to far to have my terminals apart in the water?
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guy_insane
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Icon 14 posted November 02, 2005 16:24      Profile for guy_insane     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I dont think so but if you are using a cheep phone power source consider buying a battery charger for a car or lawn mower.
by the way the distence beetween the wires dosnt realy make a diffrence.

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Icon 1 posted November 02, 2005 16:34      Profile for guy_insane     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
while i am here i might add that i would like to know out of positive and negitive whitch is the anode and witch is te cathode?

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the universe is as you perceive it so a change in perspective is a change in the universe- me november 2 2005

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JCrudent66
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Icon 1 posted November 02, 2005 17:17      Profile for JCrudent66     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by guy_insane:
while i am here i might add that i would like to know out of positive and negitive whitch is the anode and witch is te cathode?

You cannot assign anode and cathode fixed polarities.
--In an electrolytic cell the anode is positively charged while the cathode is negatively.
--In a galvanic cell, the anode is negatively charged, while the cahtode is positively charged.

For this electrolysis, the negative terminal, in which the hydrogen is formed at, is, i believe, the cathode.

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JCrudent66
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Icon 1 posted November 02, 2005 17:20      Profile for JCrudent66     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
what can i use for terminals that won't oxidize or disintegrate...(i don't really ahve any platinum just lying around)

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John

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guy_insane
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Icon 1 posted November 02, 2005 17:33      Profile for guy_insane     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
i am not sure but have you tried googleing the subject? i just keep re striping the wire until i run out then i replace the wire.

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the universe is as you perceive it so a change in perspective is a change in the universe- me november 2 2005

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