Hydrogen (H2) is both the simplest, and most abundant element in the universe with an atom structure of a single proton (Energy Information Administration [EIA], 2023). Hydrogen occurs on earth in the form of various compounds, such as water (H2O), hydro-carbons (CxHy), or biomass (CxHyOzNa) (Jianjun & Wang, 2022). However, pure hydrogen does not exist naturally in the earth’s crust (EIA, 2023). Thus, it must be produced by separating it from its various compounds (Jianjun & Wang, 2022). However, the production processes of hydrogen all require substantial amounts of energy inputs (Hassan et al., 2023). Once separated from its compounds, hydrogen can act as an energy carrier or clean burning fuel (National Renewable Energy Laboratory [NREL], n.d.). As an energy carrier, hydrogen transports energy in a usable form from one place to another. Compared to other available carriers, such as gasoline, hydrogen can carry nearly three times more energy due to its high energy density (Hassan et al., 2023). Furthermore, when hydrogen is combined with oxygen in a fuel cell, it produces heat and electricity with only water vapour as a by-product (NREL, n.d.). These qualities make hydrogen one of the most promising elements to help achieve the green energy transition.
Author: Maria Kienzle, EIAS Junior Researcher
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