Nano Solar Cells being Developed to Produce Hydrogen in Simple Plastic Bags

The ability to split water into its consituent elements of hydrogen and oxygen using electolysis has been known for over 100 years. This process can provide large amounts of hydrogen which can be used to power our homes and cars in a non-polluting and renewable way. However, traditional methods of electrolysis require highly purified water to ensure that components in the hydrolysis system do not become fouled up. In addition, an already-existing method of producing electricity is required to power the hydrolysis process itself.

Interesting Hydrogen Facts and History

The Sun - our solar system's hydrogen reactor
The Sun - our solar system's giant hydrogen fusion reactor.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

You could say hydrogen was a bit of an enigma. It is the most common atom, comprising about 75% of the known matter in the universe in terms of mass.  If we're talking purely in terms of the number of atoms in the universe, the ratio is even more impressive, with hydrogen atoms comprising an estimated 90% of the total number of atoms.

First European Hybrid Power Plant Converting Wind Power to Hydrogen Fuel

Wind Turbine behind Tanks
Wind Turbine behind Tanks at Prenzlau

Hydrogen power could be one of the solutions to our future energy needs, but until recently the problem with hydrogen power was its production for use as an energy source. Although hydrogen is the most common element in the known universe, actually capturing it for energy use is a process which itself usually requires some form of fuel or energy.

Interesting History of Hydrogen Airships and Balloons

Hydrogen Balloon attacked by French villagersThe first Hydrogen Balloon being attacked by terrified French Villagers

From its discovery, the fact that hydrogen is the lightest element made it seemingly a perfect candidate for early air travel.  The first hydrogen ballloon was launched on 27 August 1783 from the Champ de Mars in France which is now the site of the Eiffel tower.  It took almost a quarter of a tonne of sulphuric acid, poured onto half a tonne of iron to produce enough hydroden to fill the 35 cubic meter baloon.  This had to be done over a number of days to fill it though lead pipes, due to the fact that the gas was hot when initially produced, but when it entered the balloon it cooled down and contracted in volume.

Is a Hydrogen Boat or Ship the Future of Sea and River Transport?

A short while ago we  discussed how hydrogen fuel cell cars would affect the future. Today, I'd like to write about another form of transport that is looking for alternative fuel sources.

The Future of Fuel Cells and the Hydrogen Powered Car

In less than 20 years from now, driven by the oil crisis and global warming, hydrogen could become an almost regular energy source in our daily lives, potentially being used to power anything from mobile phones to heating buildings and all the way through to our daily transport.