Hydrogen is the simplest element known to exist having one proton and one electron. It has the highest energy content of any common fuel by weight, but the lowest energy content by volume. It is the lightest element and a gas at normal temperature and pressure. It is also the most abundant gas in the universe, and the source of all the energy we receive from the sun through the process of nuclear fusion. Hydrogen is always present in the compound form in combination with elements like oxygen (H2O), carbon (CH4), etc. It is one of the most abundant elements on the earth’s crust.
Hydrogen is one of the most promising energy carriers in future. It is a high efficiency, low polluting fuel that can be used for transportation, heating, and power generation in places where it is difficult to use electricity. Hydrogen was observed and collected long before it was recognized as a unique gas by Robert Boyle in 1671, who dissolved iron in diluted hydrochloric acid.
HYDROGEN PRODUCTION AND BENEFITSSince molecular hydrogen does not occur abundantly on earth’s atmosphere, it must be manufactured. There are several ways for producing hydrogen for commercial purposes. Hydrogen can be produced using diverse, domestic resources including fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas; nuclear; and biomass and other renewable energy technologies, such as wind, solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric power. Some methods for hydrogen production are natural gas reforming, renewable electrolysis, photo electrochemical processes, high temperature thermochemical water splitting etc many of which are only in the early stages of development. Hydrogen can generate power without exhaust emission in fuel cells. Environmental benefits and health benefits are even greater when hydrogen is produced from low or zero-emission sources such as solar energy, wind and and nuclear energy. Hydrogen combustion produces only water as the by-product. It can also compensate for the intermittency of renewable energy production.