Hydrogen is a colourless, odorless, tasteless, and explosive diatomic gas which has a variety of uses. Hydrogen can be produced/extracted via electrolysis, chemical reactions, bioreactors, and hydrocarbon reformation. This page pertains to the use of hydrogen for electrical, thermal, and mechanical energy production and the environmental characteristics of that.
Produce Hydrogen Using Electrolysis
Each molecule of water (dihydrogen monoxide) is H2O, meaning that in it there are 2 hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom bonded together. Electrolysis involves passing an electric current through the water which separates the hydrogen and oxygen from each other. Both hydrogen and oxygen are gases on their own, not liquids, so they bubble up out of the water at the cathode and anode respectively during electrolysis.
Termites can produce up to two litres of hydrogen by consuming and digesting only one sheet of paper. They do this with the help of more than 200 microbes in their digestive systems. Termites are the most efficient known bioreactors.
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Hydrogen is either combusted in an ICE to produce mechanical energy which is used to turn wheels or in a fuel cell (solid state) which generates electricity to charge batteries/power an electric motor which turns wheels. Hydrogen is not normally used for transportation but it is being considered by researchers as a possible petroleum alternative.
Storage and Hydrogen Fuel Tanks
Hydrogen fueled vehicles require special storage tanks because hydrogen is a volatile gas, a consequence is that it takes up a tremendous amount of space per unit of hydrogen that it has to be liquified and stored in a well sealed tank at a very high pressure.
Hydrogen can be used to generate electricity by combusting it in an internal combustion engine to produce mechanical energy, combusting it to provide a water boiler with heat for steam generation to power a steam turbine, or it can be supplied to a hydrogen fuel cell along with oxygen for the solid state generation of electricity. A proposal to compensate for the intermittency of wind power was to use electricity generated by wind turbines to power electrolysis which liberates hydrogen from water in gas form. That hydrogen can then be used to fuel a fuel cell or burnt in a hydrogen combustion engine for hydrogen powered vehicles or hydrogen burning generators.