Hydrogen as Fuel

Hydrogen is a surprisingly powerful element, and it has to be, when you consider that it powers our sun!





While hydrogen provides a lot of things that keep us alive here on earth, this powerful element can also be extremely dangerous. In the early 1900’s, hydrogen was used to fill airships. This proved to be incredibly dangerous when the Hindenburg airship exploded on an attempt to dock.

Hydrogen is also the main ingredient in hydrogen bombs….

When stored under a very high pressure or extremely low temperatures, hydrogen exists as a liquid. When this liquid combusts with oxygen it is powerful enough to propel a rocket into space!

So we know that hydrogen is a powerful element. But how can we use this power to our advantage?

If we can harness this immense power of hydrogen, we would be able to create the cleanest possible fuel source for our planet.

Why?

Well, firstly, hydrogen is abundant and renewable, unlike the fossil fuels we often use to power machinery. Hydrogen fuel also does not produce any of the harmful byproducts that fossil fuels do. It only produces water as a waste product!

Fuel cells

Converting this incredible power into useable fuel for technology, such as our hydrogen drones, is done through the use of hydrogen fuel cells.

Fuel cells take the chemical energy from the hydrogens reactions and turn it into electrical energy. This electrical energy can be used to power a wide array of machines.

The conversion process inside the fuel cell is an incredible feat of science. Inside the cell, the hydrogen gas is split into protons and electrons. The positively charged protons are moved to one side of the fuel cell while the negatively charged electrons group on the other side. When connected to an external circuit, the protons and electrons create a flow of electricity.




Challenges

In our previous article, we discuss the power of hydrogen being able to propel a rocket into space. Unfortunately, a car full of highly explosive rocket fuel is not the safest thing around. Scientists are still working on ways to store this fuel carefully in vehicles so that if an accident were to happen, the fuel would be safe from a potential explosion.

This takes a lot of time and energy for the scientific community, and while we know it is possible, we have to be patient through all of the testing before we can put hydrogen fuel into street vehicles.

Another challenge to hydrogen fuel is creating a place for re-fueling. The industry can take a lot of inspiration from how we store fossil fuels for re-fueling vehicles, but some changes will need to be made to ensure safety.


What we have learned so far?


Throughout our mini series so far we have learned a lot about hydrogen such as that...


  • Hydrogen is the most abundant element on Earth

  • Hydrogen is found in sugar, which means you probably eat some hydrogen every day!

  • Hydrogen is used to fuel rockets and the sun

  • Hydrogen fuel cells use hydrogen to create electrical energy from chemical energy


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