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What is Hydrogen?

Itís Simple! Hydrogen is the simplest, lightest element in the universe. It is made up of one proton and one electron. Because of its simplicity, it is believed by some that hydrogen is the root of all elements.

Itís Light! When hydrogen escapes into the atmosphere, it is so light that it scatters immediately upward in the air (itís 14 times lighter than air). This means that a hydrogen spill wonít pool on the ground, pollute groundwater, or soak into clothingóit removes itself!

Itís Everywhere! Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, making up more that 90% of all matter. On Earth, it is the third most abundant element in the Earthís surface, found in water and all organic matter.

Whatís Its Nature? In its normal gaseous state, hydrogen is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and is nontoxic, which makes it different from every other common fuel we use.

What Happens When Hydrogen Burns? Hydrogen burns readily with oxygen, releasing considerable energy as heat and producing only water as exhaust. When hydrogen burns in air (which is mostly nitrogen), some oxides of nitrogen (NOx, contributors to smog and acid rain) can be formed, but much fewer pollutants are formed than when normal hydrocarbon fuels such as gasoline and diesel are burned. Because no carbon is involved, using hydrogen fuel eliminates carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and does not contribute to global warming.


-- Periodic Table

-- DOE Website


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