Few things are guaranteed in this life; day follows night, a clean white
shirt attracts ketchup and quoits will never become a mainstream sport. But,
of all the universal truths, the most immutable is that water does not burn.
Or does it? Well, apparently, under certain circumstances it can do just
that and - if the hype is to be believed soon the world will be powered by
|John Kanzius, a former TV and radio engineer and leukaemia
sufferer, believed radio waves could be used to cure cancer. He designed
and built a transinitter that could focus high- frequency radio waves into
the human body and target cancerous growths. His idea was to inject tiny
carbon particles into a tumour which, when struck by the radio waves, would
heat up to such a degree that cancerous cells would be killed.
It was during the development of the transmitter that he discovered a bizarre
side effect - the radio waves could make water burn.He found that, when he
blasted a test tube of salt water with the radio waves, it gave off a gas
which, when ignited, burned at more than l,600°C (2,9l2°F).
The discovery has sparked a frenzy of Internet speculation as to its potential
as a revolutionary fuel, capable of running your car and providing clean
energy for all. Mr Kanzius has even demonstrated an engine running on nothing
but 'burning water'. Last week, scientists at Pennsylvania State University
confirmed the device does indeed seem to work. But how?
It seems that the radio waves break the bond between hydrogen and oxygen
atoms in the water and allowing them to escape as a gas which, as long as
it remains in the field, can be burned. Whether or not this discovery could
be tuned to any practical use remains to be seen. Sceptics argue that far
more energy is used breaking the oxygen- hydrogen bonds than could ever be
recovered by burning the by-product.
If it did work, however, not only would Mr Kanzius have discovered the ultimate
clean fuel but also have invented a perpetual motion machine. Because the
onlly exhaust by-product of the device would be H2O - the hydrogen recombines
with oxygen and turns back into water - an engine run using this process
would have an endless supply of fuel and thus would never require refuelling.
A cure for cancer and an answer to the fuel crisis and global warming all
in one device? Happy days indeed!