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Flamability

Posted by xccj , in Thoughts, Stories Nov 13 2013 · 371 views

SCIENCE Chemisty Is it flammable?
So story writing for NaNo got interrupted by a scientific study.
 
See, I have this potential scene where the enemy is using electricity, and the protagonist is waaaaay out gunned. So (SPOILER) he decides to douse the baddie with water and use electrolysis (powered by the baddie's electricity) to split the H2O into H and O. Then he'd use a spark to make the gas explode around the antagonist, thus winning in an unconventional way and showing that he paid attention in chemistry class (which is actually a theme of the story.)
 
But of course, I then had to consider an important fact of would this work? At all? The electrolysis part is good (use electricity to split water molecules into individual atoms) but I wasn't sure if the resulting gases would actually combust. At first I thought that the oxygen would be the one burning; I watched some recent show where they increased the pure oxygen count and threatened to blow the entire place up with just a spark. However, this is partially wrong; for stuff to burn, one of the key ingredients is oxygen, which the combusting atoms could fuse to to form CO2 or something. (Still, I guess adding oxygen allows increases the combustibility of other materials, but on it's own, it won't do anything.)
 
Luckily, my scenario is saved because Hydrogen is like extremely flammable. Like, "Hey, I'm the primary element burning in the sun" flammable. Like "Hey, I filled the Hindenburg and you remember what happened when that got lit up" flammable. So my scenario holds. Kind of. To truly test it, I would need to see if turning the sprinklers on a person who was shooting out electricity would produce enough hydrogen to cause a sizeable explosion... but sadly I'm missing some of the key ingredients. (Any person with electrical powers want to volunteer?)
 
Still, I found some interesting articles of flammability. (I hope my Google searches don't raise too many questions; I'm researching for a fictional story, nothing more!!) Anyway, one article was how to tell if something is flammable. It went something like this?
 
  • Does it have a flammable symbol on the container?
  • Does it say the word "flammable" on the container?
  • Does it catch on fire when you light it with a match?
 
(That last one may have been an addition of my own.) But yeah, basically, not quite the scientific explanation I was looking for.
 
I also need to research the physics of jumping off a moving vehicle on the freeway and safely landing on the ground. I may stretch the facts a bit with that particular scene. (Somehow, I really love the idea of a fight scene jumping from car rooftops on a busy freeway... moving fast enough to cause problems if one hits the ground, but with the cars still driving close enough to each other... again, this is a hard one to test out IRL.)
 
And stuff came up so I'll probably be busy for the rest of the month starting next week, so I need to finish this story quickly. Shame I'm only just at the expected word count right now... still worried that the story will naturally end before I reach 50K.
 
:music:

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Blessed Blade
Nov 13 2013 08:43 AM
Heh, freeway fights; those are awesome.

Interesting question for the main point of the entry, though; I'd volunteer but I don't have electrical powers in real life, and I kinda like not being, you know, exploded. =P
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Keep in mind, too, how much energy the splitting would take. Is it within your character's abilities? Either ones?

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