An Erie cancer researcher has found a way to burn salt water, a novel invention that is being touted by one chemist as the "most remarkable" water science discovery in a century.
John Kanzius happened upon the discovery accidentally when he tried to desalinate seawater with a radio-frequency generator he developed to treat cancer. He discovered that as long as the salt water was exposed to the radio frequencies, it would burn.
The discovery has scientists excited by the prospect of using salt water, the most abundant resource on earth, as a fuel.
Rustum Roy, a Penn State University chemist, has held demonstrations at his State College lab to confirm his own observations.
The radio frequencies act to weaken the bonds between the elements that make up salt water, releasing the hydrogen, Roy said. Once ignited, the hydrogen will burn as long as it is exposed to the frequencies, he said.
From the images it's clear (ha) that the flame isn't entirely hydrogen (since hydrogen burning in oxygen appears as a clear flame and is invisible to the naked eye) -- maybe some of the salts are also burning? The article also doesn't mention that the radio waves required for the technique require more energy to generate than is released in the reaction. Still, with further research we could have an abundant new source of fuel on our hands. (Or a megaweapon capable of destroying the earth.)