A closer look at Hydrogen (H)


What is Hydrogen used for?


The hydrogen blog icon

Michiel Bester | Updated: June 2022

What is the fuss about Hydrogen and why is everyone talking about it?

Hydrogen is the first element in the Periodic Table of Elements, but that's not why everyone is talking about it! Subjects like climate change, alternative fuel sources, and the electric vehichle boom is what is causing people to look at hydrogen.

The properties of the Hydrogen Element:

Atomic Number:1
Atomic Symbol:H
Atomic Weight (amu):1.008
Electronegativity:2.20
Melting point:-259.16°C | -434.49 °F | 13.99K
Boiling point:-252.88°C | -423.18 °F | 20.27K

What does Hydrogen look like?

Hydrogen is a colourless, odourless tasteless, non-toxic, and highly combustible gas.

Where can you find Hydrogen?

Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical substance in the universe. Most of the hydrogen on earth exists in molecular forms, for example in water molecules where two hydrogen atoms are combined with one oxygen atom. There are various methods of producing Hydrogen industrially, but it can easily be produced at home by a method called hydrolysis. A litre of water will produce about 111 grams of Hydrogen under the hydrolysis process.

Who discovered the Hydrogen element?

The discovery of hydrogen can be attributed to three names in science. Paracelus, Henry Cavendish, and Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (The french chemist who compiled the first list of 33 elements).

Paracelus unknowingly experimented with hydrogen in the 16th century when he discovered a flammable gas when metal was dissolved in acid. He mistakenly thought that this gas was hydrocarbons or carbon monoxide.

Henry Cavendish determined in 1766 that hydrogen, then called phlogiston or flammable air, was distinct from other combustible gases and in 1781 he confirmed previous observations that hydrogen forms water when burned.

Finally, Antoine Lavoisier, the father of modern chemistry named this “flammable air” hydrogen, french for “water former”, from which the English word hydrogen is derived.

What can Hydrogen be used for?

Hydrogen is used for fossil fuel processing and the production of ammonia mostly for the fertiliser market.

Hydrogen is not commonly used for its energy as a combustible fuel, because it is not found abundantly in its natural form and requires more energy to be produced than what the hydrogen fuel can supply.

Hydrogen is present in endless compounds such as water (H2O), methane (CH4), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) some of which are discussed briefly below.

Is Hydrogen Dangerous

Although hydrogen is non-toxic it can still be dangerous when handled without caution. Hydrogen is highly flammable and leaks can create a serious risk of fire.

Countless compounds like hydrogen sulfide, which exists of two hydrogen atoms and one sulphur atom, are poisonous, corrosive, and flammable.

Interesting facts about Hydrogen

The word hydrogen means “water-former”, giving away the famous reaction, which is that water is formed when burning hydrogen.

What compounds are formed with Hydrogen?

Water (H2O): Water is one of the most abundant and undervalued resources on planet earth. Not many people think about water as a chemical compound, but in essence the majority of water as

Methane (CH4):

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2): Can be bought in most pharmacies and is used as an antiseptic liquid, cleaning product for various application and stain removal. It can also be used to whiten old porcelain and other materials or even to sprout health seeds. Always consult a chemist before attempting to use unkown compunds in your house, but as a rule of thumb avoid to use hydrogen peroxide on your skin. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to soften the shell of a seed to increase the sprouting process of seedlings.

Funny hydrogen jokes and puns

Two hydrogen atoms walk into a bar.
The one says: “I’ve lost my electron”
“Are you sure?” says the other.
The first one replies, “Yes, I’m posive!”

If H2O is water; H2O2 is hydrogen peroxide; What is H2O4?
Drinking

Why does oxygen love pool parties?
There are two hydrogens for every oxygen.