What is Hydrogen?
The simplest and lightest fuel is hydrogen gas (H2). Hydrogen is in a
gaseous state at atmospheric pressure and ambient temperatures.
Hydrogen is being explored for use in combustion engines and fuel cell
electric vehicles. On a volumetric basis, the energy density of
hydrogen is very low under ambient conditions. This presents greater
transportation and storage hurdles than for liquid fuels. Storage
systems being developed include compressed hydrogen, liquid hydrogen,
and physical or chemical bonding between hydrogen and a storage
material (for example, metal hydrides).The ability to create hydrogen
from a variety of resources and its clean-burning properties make it a
desirable alternative fuel.
Hydrogen's physical and chemical properties make it a good candidate
for a fuel. At normal atmospheric conditions, hydrogen is a colorless
and odorless gas. It is stable and coexists harmlessly with free
oxygen until an input of energy drives the exothermic reaction that
forms water. Fuel cells also may use hydrogen as a fuel. A fuel cell
is an electrochemical engine that converts the chemical energy
contained in the hydrogen molecule into electrical energy. Hydrogen
can react with oxygen to produce electricity in a fuel cell.
Hydrogen is the lightest element occurring in nature and contains a
large amount of energy in its chemical bond. Because of its low
density, liquid hydrogen weighs less than petroleum-based fuels. The
density of gaseous hydrogen is 0.0899 grams per liter (g/l). (Air is
1.4 times as dense.) Liquid hydrogen boils at -252.77 degrees Celsius,
and it has a dens...
... middle of paper ...
...e compared to liquid fuels like gasoline or
ethanol. Hydrogen can also be cooled to produce liquid hydrogen, but
it is costly.
Hydrogen's clean burning characteristics may, one day, make it a
popular transportation fuel. For now, the problem of how to store
enough hydrogen on a vehicle for a reasonable range, and its high
cost, compared to gasoline, are critical barriers to widespread
Nearly all hydrogen currently is made from natural gas. For that
reason, hydrogen usually costs more than natural gas.
Hydrogen fueled vehicles
There have only been a small number of prototype hydrogen vehicles
made. Most of these have been experimental vehicles made by car
manufacturers. Nearly all of these prototype cars were equipped with
internal combustion engines, similar to ones that run on gasoline.
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