• Question: Can you use water in any condition to split the water into oxygen and hydrogen to use for fuel instead of petrol? or does the water have to be clean and filtered?

    Asked by alamin to Suze on 13 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Suze Kundu

      Suze Kundu answered on 13 Jun 2011:

      Good morning!

      The answer is, pretty much, yes. Obviously, the cleaner the better as all the water molecules are ready to rock. The technology that I’m using to do this is really flexible, and uses a material called titanium dioxide, and a whole load of lovely sunlight. You might not have heard of titanium dioxide, but you’ve definitely touched it. It’s all around you! It is a really white material that is used in suncream, wall paints, and even on self-cleaning glass – but more about that in a bit!

      The water that you’re using to make fuel like hydrogen would ideally not be too murky, but if it was, you can chuck a load of powdered titanium dioxide in there. This stuff is able to break down any dirt or earthy matter into smaller molecules like carbon dioxide and release these, which makes the water less murky. The less dirty the water, the further light can reach into the depths of the water. This technology is actually used to create clean water in developing countries where people may not have access to fresh water nearby, and so have to rely on dirty water. Using powders like this, they can break down all the horrible dirt in the water.

      This technology is also used to make windows that are able to clean themselves! This is important if, like me, you are scared of heights. Imagine being a window cleaner, cleaning the windows of the 80th floor of a building?! I don’t think I’d like that very much! The self-cleaning glass has a thin layer of this same magical material, titanium dioxide, all over it. When dirt lands on the layer of titanium dioxide, light activates the layer of titanium dioxide, and this breaks down the dirt molecules. When it rains, the water washes away any remaining broken down dirt.