Understanding our work

Hydrogen

Before trying to learn what we do, first an understanding of hydrogen and fuel cells should be established.

 

Hydrogen can be found all around us. In fact it is the most abundant chemical substance in the universe. It got its name from the Greek words ‘Hydro’ meaning water, and ‘Genes’ meaning creator, due to it producing water when burned.

 

Over 70% of the Earth’s surface is water, a compound of Hydrogen and Oxygen

Being the lightest element on earth, pure Hydrogen is rather difficult to find on the surface of earth, and it is mainly found in the upper reaches of the atmosphere.

 

Also, being a highly reactive element, it is most commonly seen combined with other elements. A very common example is with Oxygen to form water.

 

Hydrogen-filled airships were common in the early 20th century

 

Historically the light-weight property of Hydrogen was its main advantage, with it mainly being used in lighter-than-

air aircraft.

Today its use includes refining petroleum, treating metals, producing fertilizer and processing food.

NASA began using liquid Hydrogen as a rocket fuel in the 1950s, and a bit later used hydrogen fuel cells to generate electricity.

 

Hydrogen’s interesting way of producing electricity is what made hydrogen be seen as the future of clean fuel. Producing just water and electricity after oxidisation, hydrogen fuel cells are practically ‘pollution-free’. Ever newer applications for hydrogen, for example in zero-emission electric vehicles, are being earmarked for researched.

 

An interesting note is that Hydrogen on its own is not an energy source, rather an energy carrier. That means it stores energy first created elsewhere which can later be converted into other forms.

 

A way to visualise it would be with flowing water and a dam. Flowing water produces energy whenever and wherever it wants to. A dam however stores energy from the flowing water, waiting to release it when it is needed at a location that requires it.

 

An energy source compared to an energy carrier