What is hydrogen?
Hydrogen is number 1 in the Periodic Table and is the lightest of all gases. It is at the same time the simplest and most widespread element in the universe. Hydrogen forms chemical bonds with almost all other elements and is included in the majority of all organic compounds. Together with carbon, oxygen and water, hydrogen is the most important element in living organisms.
The hydrogen atom is made up of an atomic nucleus, consisting of one proton and one electron in an orbit around the nucleus. The nucleus can contain up to several neutrons.
On earth, hydrogen is not found in free form, and is therefore not an energy source, but a so-called energy carrier, which can be used to store and transport energy.
Our sun and stars consist mainly of hydrogen. Hydrogen’s fusion to the element helium causes the stars to emit energy (Light) which is the condition of all life on earth.
Hydrogen is special because it can play a role in an energy cycle that starts and ends with water and does not pollute any harmful emissions. But hydrogen can also be produced from many other different substances. Today, most hydrogen is produced from natural gas and coal, but as these are fossil sources, they emit CO2, corresponding to about 2% of the world’s total CO2 emissions.
Hydrogen can also be produced catalytically (by a chemical compound) from ethanol or methanol, which in turn can be produced from biomass.
Finally, hydrogen can also be produced renewable through electrolysis, where water is split by supplying electricity and forms hydrogen and oxygen. This electricity can come from renewable energy sources such as. wind turbines or solar cells.
If in the future we are to base a significant part of our energy supply on renewable energy, then it is necessary to find some kind of energy carrier or storage mechanism. The wind turbines do not produce energy when the wind is not blowing, and sometimes the wind turbines produce more energy than we can manage to consume. Therefore, we need a substance that can store energy and that can create a balance between production and consumption. At the same time, we also need a fossil-free fuel that can be used in the transport sector instead of petrol and diesel. This substance could very well be hydrogen, as it can advantageously be produced at times when there is a surplus in electricity production.