Hydrogen

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and when reacted with air in a fuel cell provides clean, safe, reliable power.

How safe is hydrogen?

Hydrogen is non-toxic and is as safe as other fuels being widely used today such as gasoline and natural gas. In fact, some of hydrogen’s properties actually provide safety benefits compared to other fuels, for example it dissipates very quickly and is much less likely to explode in open air because of its high buoyancy and diffusivity. This contrasts sharply with much heavier gases such as natural gas and gasoline vapour which carry a greater danger of explosion because they hover close to the ground and do not disperse quickly enough. However, all flammable fuels must be handled responsibly. Like petrol and natural gas, hydrogen is flammable and can behave dangerously under specific conditions. Hydrogen can be handled safely when guidelines are observed and the user has an understanding of its behaviour. Over 50 million tons of hydrogen are produced every year and hydrogen’s safety record is excellent.

 

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How is hydrogen produced?

Hydrogen is an energy carrier, not a naturally occurring fuel and must be produced from hydrogen containing feedstock. Hydrogen can be produced from an extremely wide range of sources, but most of the world’s hydrogen is presently produced by reformation of natural gas. Hydrogen is also commonly produced by the electrolysis of water. Electrolysis requires electricity, if that electricity is produced by renewable means; the hydrogen produced is as low carbon as it is possible to be.

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What is renewable/green hydrogen?

Hydrogen can be generated by renewable energy sources with electrolysis a common method used to by which to produce it. Electrolysis involves the separation of water into its constituent elements - hydrogen and oxygen - by use of an electric current. By using electricity from solar or wind sources, hydrogen can be renewably generated and stored for later use for example, as a zero-emission fuel. 

On their own, renewable technologies often produce power intermittently (e.g., only when the sun is out or the wind is blowing), so hydrogen can also increase reliability by providing an energy storage medium. Hydrogen, renewably produced during off-peak periods and stored, can provide constant power using fuel cells or engines when the renewable power is not available.

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How is hydrogen stored?

Hydrogen is most commonly, and in particular for the majority of PEM fuel applications, stored as a compressed gas. In recent years lightweight, carbon-fibre hydrogen storage tanks have been developed, primarily for on board fuel cell vehicle hydrogen storage. These tanks have been proven to withstand, crash, drop, fire and ballistic testing.  The tanks have also been designed with safety enhancements to prevent leaks and in the unlikely event of an issue, safely release and ventilate the hydrogen.

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