Q: Frequently Asked Questions 1. Is hydrogen more dangerous than gasoline? 2. Is burning hydrogen like the hydrogen bomb? 3. Did hydrogen cause the Hindenburg to burn? 4. How much does hydrogen cost? 5. When will I be able to buy a hydrogen car? 6. How does a fuel cell work? 7. Won't petroleum companies fight the introduction of hydrogen as a fuel? 8. What will happen to all the water put into the air? Will the climate be changed? 9. What is the difference between HYDROGEN and HYDROZINE? We used HYDROZINE for fuel cells in 1965 at Allis-Chalmers. 10. What is the difference between hydrogen combustion, and fuel cell technology? Are they the same thing? It is very hard to find information on hydrogen combustion, but relatively easy to learn about fuel cells. 11. How was hydrogen named? 12. How can I convert my car to run on hydrogen? 13. I'm a 15 year old student who needs information about HYDROGEN. I'm confused! I read a lot of things on your website but I don't really get it. Can you please simply help me explain the: History , Properties and uses of it? 14. For each positive there's a negative. What's hydrogen's? I think that Hydrogen has the possibility of being far safer and more superior than both nuclear - and fossil fuel - but so far all I've heard is all the rosy news about Hydrogen - and that makes me suspicious. 15. At what temperature does hydrogen liquefy? 16. Is there any way to invest in this industry at the moment? 17. It seems that using salt water, as it is in most oceans, would be a viable source of hydrogen. Is this true? 18. Is not hydrogen a carrier of energy, such as electricity? Does it not take more energy to produce hydrogen than is realized? 19. Is the storage of hydrogen efficient, space wise? 20. How does it relate to gasoline or diesel storage? 21. Is it practical for automobiles to have such a huge storage tank? 22. How many protons and neutrons does hydrogen have?
A: 1. Is hydrogen more dangerous than gasoline? Since any fuel we use is flammable, it is inherently dangerous. Hydrogen is often used as a gaseous fuel, which makes it similar to natural gas and town gas, which have been used in America, Europe, and Asia for heating and lighting for almost two centuries. One difference is that hydrogen is nontoxic, so it's not harmful to breathe. It's also so light that it scatters immediately upward when there is a leak, rather than pooling about, polluting groundwater, and soaking into clothes. The end assessment is that when hydrogen is handled with care appropriate to any gaseous fuel, it is safer than fuels in standard use. 2. Is burning hydrogen like the hydrogen bomb? No. Burning hydrogen, just like burning gasoline, natural gas, or a candle, is a chemical reaction, which means that only the electrons get shifted around and new compounds are made, like water, but the basic atoms are the same. In a nuclear reaction, the actual nucleus of the atom (the protons and neutrons) is changed. 3. Did hydrogen cause the Hindenburg to burn? No. It turns out that the coating of the Hindenburg airship was treated with two major components of rocket fuel, aluminum and iron oxide. When the airship was docking in 1937, an electrical discharge ignited the skin, and the fire raced over the surface of the airship. In fact, 35 of the 37 people who died, perished from jumping or falling to the ground. Only two of the victims died of burns, and these were from the burning coating and on-board diesel. The hydrogen burned quickly, upward and away from the people. 4. How much does hydrogen cost? It depends on how you make it. Until recently, the most inexpensive production method was using steam reformation of natural gas (heating methane under high pressure with a catalyst in a steam atmosphere). When the cost of natural gas was about $2 per MMBtu (Million Btu) hydrogen was produced for as little as US $0.96 per kilogram, at the production plant. In 2005, the cost of natural gas rose above $13 per MMBtu, with the cost of hydrogen rising proportionally. Other methods, such as electrically breaking water (H2O) into hydrogen and oxygen (electrolysis), chemical reactions, and biomass digestion vary in their prices. Hydrogen produced from wind farm electricity is now the cheapest way to produce hydrogen. There are many ways to produce hydrogen, and they will become more competitive in the future. See the California Fuel Cell Partnership map for hydrogen fueling stations in California. 5. When will I be able to buy a hydrogen car? Some HICE (Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles are available today. Fuel cell vehicles will be available later. Below is a timeline for hydrogen automobile availability, based on announcements by the manufacturers. Manufacturer Details Available for Fleets Available to Public BMW BMW announced on February 20, 2006 that they will sell a dual fuel (hydrogen or gasoline at the flip of a switch) version of its 7 series model within two years. News article February 2008 February 2008 Daimler-Chrysler Daimler-Chrysler claims to have the largest fleet of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in operation at over 100. News article. Not announced Not announced Ford Not announced Not announced GM Hydrogen only fuel cell: News article. 2010-2015 2010-2015 H2Logic ApS This "H2 Truck" is a small, 3-wheel vehicle used for warehouse, airport luggage hauling, hospitals and ports. The package for sale includes an electrolyzer for producing hydrogen. News article. Now Not for public use Honda Hydrogen only fuel cell: News article. 2008-2010 2008-2010 Hydrogen Labs Hydrogen Labs modifies Ford Crown Victoria police vehicles for resale to police fleets. News article. Now Not announced Hyundai Not announced Not announced Mazda Mazda started leasing a limited number of the RX-8 Hydrogen RE (dual fuel) model in Japan in February 2006: News article. Mass production will begin around October 2008: News article. February 2006 in Japan only. October 2008 Nissan Not announced Not announced Peugeot Hydrogen only fuel cell: News article. After 2010 After 2010 Quantum Quantum modifies Toyota Prius hybrid vehicles to run on pure hydrogen. Now. They will sell to any fleet customer with a minimum order of 5 vehicles. Not announced Toyota Not announced Not announced Volkswagen Not announced Not announced 6. How does a fuel cell work? A fuel cell is fed hydrogen and air and puts out electricity, heat, and water. The hydrogen gas going in gets split into separate protons and electrons by a catalyst, and the protons travel through a membrane that doesn't let the electrons through. The electrons must find another way, such as through a wire that is provided. The electrons traveling through the wire to meet up with the protons make an electrical current, which does work. On the other side of the membrane, the hydrogen protons and electrons are reunited in the presence of atmospheric air (a source of oxygen), which produces only heat and pure water in the exhaust. An excellent animated graphic of an operating fuel cell can be found at: http://www.humboldt.edu/~serc/animation.html. 7. Won't petroleum companies fight the introduction of hydrogen as a fuel? Some of them have indeed fought the move to hydrogen. Lee R. Raymond, CEO of ExxonMobil, did not want his company involved with developing hydrogen as an alternative fuel. However, many visionary companies, such as Shell, BP and ChevronTexaco, see the remarkable possibilities of hydrogen as a clean fuel, and embrace the business opportunities that go along with the evolution to the hydrogen economy. As such, those "petroleum companies" are becoming "energy companies." 8. What will happen to all the water put into the air? Will the climate be changed? The amount of water put into the air from hydrogen combustion won't even be detected by your local meteorologist, when checking the moisture content of the air. Consider that all internal combustion engines that burn fossil fuels, such as gasoline, diesel or natural gas, produce water vapor that vents into the air. Changing engines to pure hydrogen will produce about the same amount of water vapor, while eliminating all of the carbon and sulfur emissions. Hydrogen Now supports using renewable energy to produce hydrogen, via the process of electrolysis, where water is separated into its two basic components: hydrogen and oxygen. When hydrogen is burned in an engine, or used in a fuel cell, the end product is water. The net result of the complete circle is that there is no more or no less water in the environment than at the beginning of the cycle. Some other points of interest: 1) When gasoline, diesel or natural gas is burned, water vapor is produced. Burning hydrogen instead of these fuels will emit about the same amount of water vapor. 2) The amount of water emitted by automobiles using hydrogen is so insignificant that it will have no effect on weather. 3) Burning hydrogen instead of fossil fuels will clean the air. 4) Each gallon of gasoline requires 18 gallons of water during the refining process. Much of this water is vented to the atmosphere as steam. 5) Burning fossil fuels add sulfur oxides (resulting in acid rain), nitrogen oxides, soot and other pollutants which greatly affect weather throughout the world. Burning hydrogen produces none of the same pollutants, except minor amounts of nitrogen oxides, which can be controlled by modifying the engines properly. And lots of wishful thinking in the answers. The amount of wind power needed to generate the electricty we need to make enough hydrogen to replace the coal and gasoline is well beyond our ability to generate now or in the near future. And remember, the left is fighting huge windfarms in the best locations. Check again. Some are. Some are opposing them on grounds they ruin natural landscapes, endanger birds, etc, etc.
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