Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

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Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby >-) » Sun Nov 09, 2014 2:30 am UTC

I've always wanted a beaker of protons.

Suppose a strongly positively charged object is used to remove the Cl- from an HCl solution. The water is then boiled off, leaving only H+ ions.

Does this procedure work? Or why not?

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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby LaserGuy » Sun Nov 09, 2014 4:22 am UTC

In open air the protons would just react with some air molecules and escape while you were boiling off the water. You can do a similar sort of thing to this in vacuum, I guess.

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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Nov 09, 2014 4:41 am UTC

I'm way out of practice with chemistry, but an acidic solution isn't just 'a bunch of protons and a bunch of chlorides in water'. The H+ mostly exists as hydronium (H3O), which is a compound that is extremely willing to give up a proton.

It's better to think of 'acids' as 'compounds willing to give up protons' and 'bases' as 'compounds willing to accept protons'. The reason this is a thing we're interested in is because 'willing to give up' or 'willing to accept' are synonymous with 'chemical reactions'.
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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby thoughtfully » Sun Nov 09, 2014 12:30 pm UTC

The nearest you will get to a "beaker full of protons" is a container of Hydrogen, possibly liquid. For something solid at room temperature, paraffin wax is a common method. Concentrating protons is concentrating charged particles, and the Coulomb repulsion is going to make this impractical very quickly. It's really worth your while to include some negative charge.
Last edited by thoughtfully on Sun Nov 09, 2014 2:49 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby >-) » Sun Nov 09, 2014 2:25 pm UTC

my plans are foiled. but good answers, thank you.

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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby quantropy » Sun Nov 09, 2014 7:40 pm UTC

>-) wrote:I've always wanted a beaker of protons.

You really don't want a beaker full of protons. The electrical repulsion between them would cause a big explosion. A very big explosion.

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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby thoughtfully » Sun Nov 09, 2014 7:57 pm UTC

Maybe he wants them for a bomb. If you can confine half a beaker of protons while filling, you have got most of the job done!

I bet my white dwarf matter bomb is bigger, though!
Just kidding. Anything like a common garden variety lab beaker full of protons would be fucking scary. Don't mess around with the EM force!
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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Nov 09, 2014 10:16 pm UTC

If you had all the protons from 1L of water in a sphere, you'd have about 53MC of charge in a sphere 6.2cm in radius, for a total electrostatic potential energy of 2.4e28 J, or 6 trillion megatons of TNT.
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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby letterX » Sun Nov 09, 2014 11:30 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:If you had all the protons from 1L of water in a sphere, you'd have about 53MC of charge in a sphere 6.2cm in radius, for a total electrostatic potential energy of 2.4e28 J, or 6 trillion megatons of TNT.

For comparison, that's only 4 orders of magnitude less than the gravitational binding energy of the entire planet (2.2e32 J). With only 10 m^3 of the stuff, you'd be able to literally blow up the earth. Not just kill everything on the surface of the earth -- blast the entire planet into an expanding cloud of dust.

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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby peregrine_crow » Mon Nov 10, 2014 8:46 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:If you had all the protons from 1L of water in a sphere, you'd have about 53MC of charge in a sphere 6.2cm in radius, for a total electrostatic potential energy of 2.4e28 J, or 6 trillion megatons of TNT.


That seems off, if I recall correctly 1 gram of matter/antimatter annihilation causes an explosion of something like 50 megatons. 1L water = 1000g so 1L of anti-water would cause a 50.000 megaton explosion. Are you saying that the protons in 1L of water separated from their electrons contain 8 orders of magnitude more energy?
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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby quantropy » Mon Nov 10, 2014 10:17 am UTC

peregrine_crow wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:If you had all the protons from 1L of water in a sphere, you'd have about 53MC of charge in a sphere 6.2cm in radius, for a total electrostatic potential energy of 2.4e28 J, or 6 trillion megatons of TNT.


That seems off, if I recall correctly 1 gram of matter/antimatter annihilation causes an explosion of something like 50 megatons. 1L water = 1000g so 1L of anti-water would cause a 50.000 megaton explosion. Are you saying that the protons in 1L of water separated from their electrons contain 8 orders of magnitude more energy?

My post came from reading about a similar estimate in a book a few weeks ago, which I also found hard to believe when I read it. I can't quite remember which book it was which was why I didn't mention it in my post - possibly it was What a Wonderful world by Marcus Chown. (I also reckoned that someone else was bound to do the calculation so I didn't need to :D ).

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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby thoughtfully » Mon Nov 10, 2014 12:12 pm UTC

peregrine_crow wrote:That seems off, if I recall correctly 1 gram of matter/antimatter annihilation causes an explosion of something like 50 megatons. 1L water = 1000g so 1L of anti-water would cause a 50.000 megaton explosion. Are you saying that the protons in 1L of water separated from their electrons contain 8 orders of magnitude more energy?

There may be some GR corrections due to the high energy density, but yeah. If your intuition is balking, it's because we're being deliberately ridiculous. We're ignoring lots of practical constraints, which is pretty much the whole point. It would be at least eight orders of magnitude easier to produce 108 liters of antimatter!
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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby FancyHat » Mon Nov 10, 2014 12:17 pm UTC

quantropy wrote:
peregrine_crow wrote:That seems off, if I recall correctly 1 gram of matter/antimatter annihilation causes an explosion of something like 50 megatons. 1L water = 1000g so 1L of anti-water would cause a 50.000 megaton explosion. Are you saying that the protons in 1L of water separated from their electrons contain 8 orders of magnitude more energy?

My post came from reading about a similar estimate in a book a few weeks ago, which I also found hard to believe when I read it. I can't quite remember which book it was which was why I didn't mention it in my post - possibly it was What a Wonderful world by Marcus Chown. (I also reckoned that someone else was bound to do the calculation so I didn't need to :D ).

The self-capacitance of a sphere of volume 1 L is 6.9 pF. Charge the surface of that sphere up to 53 MC, and you've got 2×1026 J of energy.

That's less than a hundredth of what gmalivuk got, but I only charged the surface of the 1 L sphere, instead of filling it with protons. So all my protons are in a shell at the surface, where you'd expect them to be if you just let them arrange themselves within the sphere. It's about 556 g of protons, and an additional 2.2 million tonnes of electrostatically stored energy.

The work done in charging a capacitor is proportional to the square of the total charge. And a 1 L sphere only has a tiny self-capacitance as well.

Calculating the energy required to uniformly fill the sphere with protons is an integration homework exercise.
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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue Nov 11, 2014 9:43 am UTC

So "isolating" individual would take more energy than "creating" them does.

Strangely, that wouldn't make sense to me at all without considering what happens when you try to split a meson, but now it does. Sort of an object lesson in "potential energy has to come from somewhere, too."
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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby FancyHat » Tue Nov 11, 2014 1:39 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:So "isolating" individual would take more energy than "creating" them does.

Strangely, that wouldn't make sense to me at all without considering what happens when you try to split a meson, but now it does. Sort of an object lesson in "potential energy has to come from somewhere, too."

That makes me wonder: if you start with neutral hydrogen, and you remove one electron at a time, is there a point at which the amount of energy required to remove an electron is enough to 'snap' the Coulomb force and produce new particles? Sort of electrical breakdown of an insulator, but where the insulator is the vacuum?

I'm guessing you'd get an electron-positron pair, with the new electron attracted to the positive sphere and the positron repelled from it, and annihilating with the original electron. But I don't know quantum field theory, so this really is just a guess.

And now I'm wondering: if you were still able to remove electrons from the sphere despite this problem, would you get to a point where the vacuum just breaks down around the sphere, the positrons are radiated outwards, and the electrons bind with protons?
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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby peregrine_crow » Tue Nov 11, 2014 2:37 pm UTC

thoughtfully wrote:There may be some GR corrections due to the high energy density, but yeah. If your intuition is balking, it's because we're being deliberately ridiculous. We're ignoring lots of practical constraints, which is pretty much the whole point. It would be at least eight orders of magnitude easier to produce 108 liters of antimatter!


Oh, I got that we were being ridiculous, but thanks for the clarification, it did help it click for me. I think my confusion came from confusing the idea that matter annihilation is the most efficient way to convert mass into energy (correct) with the idea that annihilation is the most efficient way to extract energy from a given system (obviously incorrect), basically what Copper Bezel said.

Could make a cool weapon in a sci fi setting: use high precision teleportation to remove all the electrons from a given body of water, sit back (preferably way, way back) and watch the fireworks. Of course, this only works if your form of teleportation ignores conservation of energy (or you have obscene amounts of energy available, but in that case blowing up a planet is probably small potatoes to you), which I guess is the point.
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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby Nicias » Tue Nov 11, 2014 4:43 pm UTC

FancyHat wrote:
Copper Bezel wrote:So "isolating" individual would take more energy than "creating" them does.

Strangely, that wouldn't make sense to me at all without considering what happens when you try to split a meson, but now it does. Sort of an object lesson in "potential energy has to come from somewhere, too."

That makes me wonder: if you start with neutral hydrogen, and you remove one electron at a time, is there a point at which the amount of energy required to remove an electron is enough to 'snap' the Coulomb force and produce new particles? Sort of electrical breakdown of an insulator, but where the insulator is the vacuum?

I'm guessing you'd get an electron-positron pair, with the new electron attracted to the positive sphere and the positron repelled from it, and annihilating with the original electron. But I don't know quantum field theory, so this really is just a guess.

And now I'm wondering: if you were still able to remove electrons from the sphere despite this problem, would you get to a point where the vacuum just breaks down around the sphere, the positrons are radiated outwards, and the electrons bind with protons?


Yes. At a potential of about 10^18 V/m.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schwinger_limit

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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby Nicias » Tue Nov 11, 2014 4:46 pm UTC

peregrine_crow wrote:
thoughtfully wrote:There may be some GR corrections due to the high energy density, but yeah. If your intuition is balking, it's because we're being deliberately ridiculous. We're ignoring lots of practical constraints, which is pretty much the whole point. It would be at least eight orders of magnitude easier to produce 108 liters of antimatter!


Oh, I got that we were being ridiculous, but thanks for the clarification, it did help it click for me. I think my confusion came from confusing the idea that matter annihilation is the most efficient way to convert mass into energy (correct) with the idea that annihilation is the most efficient way to extract energy from a given system (obviously incorrect), basically what Copper Bezel said.

Could make a cool weapon in a sci fi setting: use high precision teleportation to remove all the electrons from a given body of water, sit back (preferably way, way back) and watch the fireworks. Of course, this only works if your form of teleportation ignores conservation of energy (or you have obscene amounts of energy available, but in that case blowing up a planet is probably small potatoes to you), which I guess is the point.



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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 11, 2014 6:16 pm UTC

And here we see someone who doesn't know how lmgtfy is supposed to work.

If someone didn't already know about the Niven technology, how are they supposed to google that for themselves?
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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby Nicias » Tue Nov 11, 2014 6:47 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:And here we see someone who doesn't know how lmgtfy is supposed to work.

If someone didn't already know about the Niven technology, how are they supposed to google that for themselves?


I suppose I was a little lmgtfy happy.

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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby Xanthir » Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:21 am UTC

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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby FancyHat » Wed Nov 12, 2014 10:31 am UTC

Nicias wrote:Yes. At a potential of about 10^18 V/m.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schwinger_limit

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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby drachefly » Wed Nov 12, 2014 2:21 pm UTC

Nicias wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:And here we see someone who doesn't know how lmgtfy is supposed to work.

If someone didn't already know about the Niven technology, how are they supposed to google that for themselves?


I suppose I was a little lmgtfy happy.


a little like the explosion from only a cubic millimeter of water minus the electrons.

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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:53 pm UTC

Yeah, six million megatons is still a fairly significant explosion.
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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby stoppedcaring » Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:35 pm UTC

peregrine_crow wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:If you had all the protons from 1L of water in a sphere, you'd have about 53MC of charge in a sphere 6.2cm in radius, for a total electrostatic potential energy of 2.4e28 J, or 6 trillion megatons of TNT.


That seems off, if I recall correctly 1 gram of matter/antimatter annihilation causes an explosion of something like 50 megatons. 1L water = 1000g so 1L of anti-water would cause a 50.000 megaton explosion. Are you saying that the protons in 1L of water separated from their electrons contain 8 orders of magnitude more energy?

I didn't check the math, but I don't see any reason why this wouldn't be the case. It's not really energy contained by the protons, as if the electrons are just a "switch" holding that energy back. Rather, it would be the potential energy stored by moving all those protons in through their own electrostatic fields. Since the protons haven't yet been moved through electrostatic fields in that manner, there isn't any energy stored up there.

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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby FancyHat » Thu Nov 13, 2014 9:58 am UTC

stoppedcaring wrote:I didn't check the math, but I don't see any reason why this wouldn't be the case. It's not really energy contained by the protons, as if the electrons are just a "switch" holding that energy back. Rather, it would be the potential energy stored by moving all those protons in through their own electrostatic fields. Since the protons haven't yet been moved through electrostatic fields in that manner, there isn't any energy stored up there.

Indeed, it isn't simply a matter of ionising hydrogen (or water). If it was, the energy required would be proportional to the number of protons. But it's not. There's a square term that dominates, as when charging a capacitor, which is basically what this is an example of. The energy required is proportional to the sqare of the charge, and it's not hard to see why when you imagine moving individual protons to the spherical container from far away.

The first proton gets there without any difficulty. There's nothing to repel it (and only an electron somewhere far, far away to slightly pull it back). The second proton has to get there despite a proton already being there, slightly repelling it. So that takes a tiny bit of energy, but much less than the mass-energy of a proton or two. The third proton has to be brought to the sphere against the repulsion of two protons. The fourth proton has to be brought against the repulsion of three. In general, the (n+1)th proton has to be brought to the sphere against the repulsion of n protons. Add it all together, and you've basically got the usual Q2/2C formula for the work done in charging a capacitor of capacitance C with charge Q.

The energy required to add each extra proton is proportional to the number of protons already in the sphere. (That's a simplification. For the first few protons, how the protons then arrange themselves inside the sphere seems likely to make a noticeable difference to how much more energy each extra proton needs.) With enough protons in the sphere, the energy required to add another one will be greater than the mass-energy of a single proton.
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Re: Can protons be extracted from an acid solution?

Postby peregrine_crow » Thu Nov 13, 2014 11:45 am UTC

stoppedcaring wrote:I didn't check the math, but I don't see any reason why this wouldn't be the case. It's not really energy contained by the protons, as if the electrons are just a "switch" holding that energy back. Rather, it would be the potential energy stored by moving all those protons in through their own electrostatic fields. Since the protons haven't yet been moved through electrostatic fields in that manner, there isn't any energy stored up there.

FancyHat wrote:Indeed, it isn't simply a matter of ionising hydrogen (or water). If it was, the energy required would be proportional to the number of protons. But it's not. There's a square term that dominates, as when charging a capacitor, which is basically what this is an example of. The energy required is proportional to the sqare of the charge, and it's not hard to see why when you imagine moving individual protons to the spherical container from far away.

Yes, I realized this (see my earlier post) and this was indeed where my intuition went wrong.
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