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Hydrogen Basics

In many ways, hydrogen is the perfect fuel. It is the cleanest burning and the most efficient. Hydrogen can produce electricity, and electricity can product hydrogen, creating an energy loop that is renewable and harmless to the environment. Hydrogen combines chemically with most elements, so it has been utilized as an industrial chemical in a wide range of applications for many years. In vehicles, hydrogen is being used to produced electricity that powers a motor by combining it with oxygen in a fuel cell.

What is Hydrogen?

Hydrogen is the most abundant element, comprising about three quarters of the mass in the universe. Hydrogen is found in the water that covers 70% of the earth's surface and in all organic matter.

The Simplest Element

Hydrogen is made up of just one proton and one electron

The Lightest Element

Hydrogen is the lightest of all elements and gases, and is 14 times lighter than air

Colorless, Odorless, and Nontoxic

Hydrogen produces no tailpipe emissions when used in a fuel cell vehicle

How is hydrogen produced?

  • A process called steam-methane reforming is the most common method for producing hydrogen. Natural gas or methane are reacted with steam to produce hydrogen.
  • Electrolysis produces hydrogen by using an electrical current to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen.
  • Waste gas purification separates hydrogen from waste streams in industrial processes through special purification processes.

Did You Know...

A gaseous hydrogen "spill" diffuses immediately into the air, and does not pollute the ground or groundwater.

Why is hydrogen the cleanest fuel?

Unlike carbon-based fuels, hydrogen produces no harmful byproducts upon combustion. Only power, heat and clean water are produced when hydrogen is combined with oxygen in a fuel cell.

How is hydrogen the most efficient fuel?

The highest combustion energy per pound, relative to any other fuel

Hydrogen is more efficient on a weight basis than other fuels

Two to three times more energy than other common fuels

Hydrogen combines readily with oxygen, releasing considerable energy as heat