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New research project on water can lead to groundbreaking knowledge

Thursday 04 Apr 19
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by Emil Fosgaard Lund

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Johan Kronholm
Senior Researcher
DTU Chemical Engineering
0046704267079

WATERSTRUC

Structured Water and its Implications for Biology, Chemistry and Physics, or simply WATERSTRUC, examines some of water’s structures and properties in order to gain a better understanding of the liquid. The project runs from late 2018 and up to two years and is funded DKK 1.9 million by VILLUM FONDEN.
A new research project from DTU Chemical Engineering examines structures in water that could lead to a better understanding of phenomena in nature as well as new energy technology.

For years, there has been a certain understanding of water and its properties. At the same time, liquid water has been shown to behave differently than other liquids. Some of these properties, and their possible implications, will be examined by the new research project WATERSTRUC at DTU Chemical Engineering. The project is led by Senior Researcher Johan Kronholm, who received the ‘Villum Experiment’ grant for this research.

Besides contributing to the very understanding of water itself, the project could lead to new sources of energy as fairly high voltage has been measured in cells which could be due to water, as Johan explains:

“We could potentially use this research for water treatment and even energy as there are indications that structured water can transform radiant energy into charge separation, creating a water battery.”

In other words, scientists can imagine a future where water can turn infrared radiation from the sun into an electric potential resulting in water-based solar power, but extensive research and development is needed to test this.

"I have been following the water science field for many years, and I think it’s very interesting that there are so many unanswered questions and controversial topics for such an important substance"
Johan Kronholm, Senior Researcher

Better explanation of biological systems
A water battery is just one example. If the project succeeds in detecting macroscopic long-range liquid crystals, which are structures similar to those found in solid water (ice) but in a liquid state, it could have major implications as Johan explains:

“Water is fundamental to life as we know it, it’s also fundamental in geology and even in space. Understanding more of its properties, can lead to breakthroughs in all parts of the natural sciences.”

Analyzing crystal properties of water-based liquids can help scientists better understand certain biological systems such as biofilm. Liquid crystal properties of biofilm and for example proteins are presently being investigated, and the importance of water has likely been underestimated.

Still many unanswered questions about water
Some of these theories surrounding water are not novel, and they include e.g. phase, density, thermodynamic and physical anomalies.

“These ideas aren’t new, but people can be almost religious and dogmatic when it comes to water”, Johan says and adds: “I have been following the water science field for many years, and I think it’s very interesting that there are so many unanswered questions and controversial topics for such an important substance.”

WATERSTRUC hopes to have its first results by summer 2019, but the goal is already clear – there is more to learn about water.

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