Why is water so fascinating?

Water is an extremely fascinating substance and is probably the most important molecule on Earth. Listen to Professor Søren Rud Keiding explain why it is so important to understand the properties of water.

I'm very passionate about water.

Our ability to move liquid water from where we find it to where it is needed has been sort of the driving force behind civilisations. All civilisations were built on our ability to move water and to use water. So this is the driving force for me also as a scientist to understand the properties of water.

Water is an extremely fascinating substance the most important molecule on Earth. Maybe it's even the most important molecule in the entire universe.

It is also the driving force behind a company like Grundfos that lives from moving water. Grundfos is moving water. Grundfos is addressing global challenges. And the ability to move water to where it is used - in agriculture, in households, in industry in hospitals all over the world is important for us - so that we can sustain life and we can stay alive and we can stay healthy.

Water molecules are actually very simple.
Most people know the formula for a water molecule. H2O. This is known all over the world. Although water molecules are quite simple, there's still a lot we have to learn. The challenge for me as a chemist is to see if we can understand all the important properties of water just by looking at one water molecule. It sounds simple, but it is not as simple as you think. I would suggest, if you are ambitious
and want to have a Nobel Prize in chemistry, that you study water.

Today we know roughly a hundred million molecules but only one of the hundred million molecules, namely water we know in all three phases.
Namely ice.
We know it as liquid water and we know it as steam, gaseous water.

All our climate system is actually driven by water shifting from solid form, ice, to liquid form and from liquid form to gas form, steam.

When water molecules exist as ice or as liquids or as gas the transition between those three states is actually what drives our climate system. There is a huge amount of energy involved in these transitions. If you just take a normal rainfall, 15 mm of rain over an area covering a small city, for example if it rains for one hour the amount of energy released actually compares to the amount of energy
released in a nuclear explosion.

There's a lot of water in water.
It's a strange way to put it but the amount of water molecules in one litre of water is enormous. If you would consider that one water molecule would be replaced by a grain of sand we would need a sandbox, which is 200 km in that direction 200 km in that direction and 200 km high. That filled with sand would have the same number of grains of sand as there are water molecules in one litre of water. The key secret behind water molecules is the hydrogen bond.

So this is not a property of one water molecule but this is actually the property of two and more water molecules. If you have a water molecule then this water molecule likes to bind to another water molecule and this binding we call the hydrogen bond. And understanding the hydrogen bond is also the key to understanding water.

Course overview

Modules: 6
Completion time
Completion time: 30 minutes
Difficulty level
Difficulty level: Intermediate