Amaze your friends with your knowledge of hydrogen, fuel cells
Brush up on your hydrogen and fuel cell knowledge with these eight facts about our favorite chemical element.
We’d argue that every day should be National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day, but for reasons that make way too much sense, the observance is celebrated annually on October 8 in recognition of the atomic weight of hydrogen (1.008).
To help you impress your friends and celebrate hydrogen’s potential year-round, here are eight facts about our favorite chemical element sure to make you look good and sound smart.
- Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and the third most abundant on earth. In fact, 75% of everything in the visible universe is hydrogen. However, hydrogen does not usually exist on its own in nature. Instead it is produced from compounds containing it, primarily in the form of water.
- Hydrogen is the hot, new, low-carbon fuel, but it’s been around for millions of years. Henry Cavendish discovered hydrogen in 1766 and the first electrolyzer separating hydrogen from water subsequently appeared in 1800 when a static charge was introduced into water. More than 200 years later, Cummins is continuing to enhance its products based on these fundamental discoveries.
- Fuel cells need hydrogen as a fuel to produce energy. Whilst, pure hydrogen is very common, other fuels compounded with hydrogen, or hydrocarbons, are also used for producing energy. Some examples of other fuels used are natural gas, methanol, ammonia or diesel.
- Hydrogen is a key energy vector that powers our technology using fuel cells. Fuel cells generate electricity through a chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen. As hydrogen gas passes through a fuel cell stack, it combines with atmospheric oxygen to generate electricity and the only by-product is water vapor.
- While hydrogen, when consumed, does not produce any emissions or critical air components, it is only as clean as the energy source used to produce it. When using surplus renewable energy sources, like solar, wind or hydro-electric, through the process of electrolysis, carbon-free hydrogen is generated, commonly referred to as green hydrogen.
- Fuel cells and hydrogen have been used to store power going back to the Apollo space missions. The NASA Glenn Research Center, NASA’s fuel cell research and development center, has been using fuel cells for the past four decades, including for the space shuttle missions.
- Hydrogen refueling stations are growing worldwide to support fuel cell vehicles. In 2010, there were just 22 hydrogen refueling stations around the world. In 2019, that number has grown to 470 hydrogen refueling stations in operation. Japan leads the way with 113 stations, followed by Germany with 81 and the U.S. with 64 stations.
- Hydrogen fuel cells are used in many applications. Cummins has been demonstrating hydrogen and fuel cell capabilities in many applications including powering passenger trains in Europe and providing fuel cells for refuse trucks, as well as, forklifts, pick-up and delivery trucks, heavy duty trucks, airplanes, and buses.
And if after reading this article, you’re still unimpressed with the element, remember that 62% of the atoms in your human body are hydrogen. Now you are ready to celebrate the day responsibly. Take care and have fun.