Hydrogen

The Safe Handling of Hydrogen  
Like any fuel, the safe handling of hydrogen requires that the three necessary conditions for combustion be prevented. The wide flammability ranges of hydrogen imply that a mixture of hydrogen and air might ignite more easily than other fuels. Consequently, the following precautions must be adhered to:
Hydrogen should not be mixed with air.
Contact of hydrogen with potential ignition sources should be prevented.
Purging of hydrogen systems should be performed with an inert gas such as nitrogen.
Venting of hydrogen should be done according to standards and regulation.
Because the hydrogen flame is invisible, special flame detectors are required.
 
Who discovered hydrogen?
Henry Cavendish (1731-1810) was an English chemist and physicist who spent several years studying the properties of hydrogen and carbon dioxide. In 1766 he discovered that hydrogen was a separate substance. He was the first chemist to produce water from hydrogen and oxygen.
 
Who was the first person to split water to produce hydrogen?
The first recorded splitting of water to produce hydrogen and oxygen was accomplished by Sir William Grove in 1839. He also discovered the fuel cell in the same year. He combined three fuel cells in series and connected the cells to two electrodes in an acid solution, which resulted in water splitting.
 
Where does hydrogen come from?
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, and can be found in water, fossil fuels and other sources. It usually bonds with other elements to form commonly known molecules such as water, gasoline, methane (natural gas) and methanol. It is possible to get hydrogen by unlocking the chemical bonds in the molecules that form these substances – reforming natural gas or gasoline, gasifying coal or petroleum coke, or breaking the chemical bonds in water molecules through electrolysis. This last process involves the use of a catalyst and electricity. The electricity required could ultimately be obtained from solar, wind or other renewable sources.


What is the hydrogen economy?
The hydrogen economy is a world fundamentally different than the world we know now. In the hydrogen economy hydrogen is available to everyone, everywhere—from the corner fueling station to the large industrial facility on the outskirts of town. Countries will not be dependant anymore on a single source of fuel. Hydrogen is produced, cleanly and cost-effectively, from a variety of sources like renewable energy, water and fossil fuels. Advanced technologies are used to ensure that any carbon released in the process does not escape into the atmosphere. Hydrogen is delivered and stored routinely and safely. Hydrogen-powered fuel cells and engines are as common as the gasoline and diesel engines of the late 20th century—they power our cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles, as well as our homes, offices and factories.


What are the properties of hydrogen?
Hydrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and nonpoisonous gas under normal conditions on earth. It typically exists as a diatomic molecule, meaning each molecule has two atoms of hydrogen—this is why pure hydrogen is commonly expressed as "H2". Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, accounting for 90 percent of the universe by weight. However, it is not commonly found in its pure form, since it readily combines with other elements. It is the lightest element, having a density of 0.09 grams per liter at standard pressure.


What makes hydrogen so useful for energy production?
Hydrogen is the simplest element and most plentiful gas in the universe. Yet hydrogen never occurs by itself in nature—it always combines with other elements such as oxygen and carbon. Once it has been separated, hydrogen is the ultimate clean energy carrier. Hydrogen is an obvious alternative to hydrocarbon fuels, such as gasoline. It has many potential uses, is safe to manufacture, and is environmentally friendly.


How is hydrogen produced?
Most methods of producing hydrogen involve splitting water (H2O) into its component parts of hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O). The most common method involves steam reforming of methane (from natural gas), although there are several other methods.


Why is hydrogen used as a fuel?
Hydrogen has the highest energy content per unit weight of any known fuel. It burns cleanly. When hydrogen is burned with oxygen, the only byproducts are heat and water. When burned with air, which is about 79% nitrogen by volume, some oxides of nitrogen are formed.


How do hydrogen fuel and oxygen produce electrical energy?
The electrical energy is produced in fuel cells. There are several types of fuel cells. Proton Exchange Membrane fuel cells, which are lightweight, low cost and offer high performance, are considered most suitable for use in transportation and Solid Oxide Fuel cells, which are more suitable for stationary applications.





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