2011:34 Evolution of hydrogen by copper in ultrapure water without dissolved oxygen

One result from this research was that the experimental difficulties of repeating Hultqvist and co-workers work are considerable and were initially underestimated. The main challenge was to obtain satisfactory tightness of all connectors involved in the experimental set-up. The problems with leakage resulted in that the research program originally planned for in this project had to be reduced considerable.

Nevertheless, experimental work conducted in this project has in principle reproduced parts of Hultqvist and co-workers work. Exposure of copper in pure anoxic water resulted in a measureable gas production rate. Confirmation of hydrogen gas formation was achieved by mass spectrometry analysis. A reference test by exposing a platinum foil in anoxic pure water with the same surface area as for the copper was conducted. The exposure of platinum foil did not cause any evidence of gas evolution. This shows that the kind of immersed metal rather than a metal surface itself is important in order for gas to be evolved. The most obvious explanation for the results in this work is consequently that corrosion of copper occurs in pure anoxic water. Recently published thermodynamic calculations by Macdonald also suggest that copper cannot be considered as thermodynamically immune in the presence of pure anoxic water.