Sep 15, 2014
Hydrogen Production from AlgaeMaree
Description of HydrogenThe element Hydrogen (chemical symbol H) is the lightest and most abundant element in the universe, although relatively rare on Earth in element form. Hydrogen readily forms compounds with most elements and is present in organic compounds and water. Hydrogen is the third most abundant element on Earth, but mostly in the form of hydrocarbons and water. Hydrogen Gas (H2) is colourless, odourless, non-metallic, has no taste. The gas is highly flammable, burning in air at concentrations of 4% to 75%. Mixtures spontaneously detonate by spark, heat or sunlight with an auto-ignition temperature of 500 degrees Celsius. Pure hydrogen and oxygen fires are invisible. Flames ascend rapidly because Hydrogen is lighter than air. Hydrogen gas reacts violently with chlorine and fluoride to form dangerous acids. Because of its light weight, hydrogen gas is able to escape gravity and thus is rare in Earth's atmosphere, at around 1 ppm.
Figure 1 - Hydrogen Gas
Figure 2 - Hydrogen gas bubbles in a demonstration bio-reactor
Hydrogen gas history1500s - T. von Honenheim - Hydrogen gas was first artificially produced and formally described. Metals were mixed with strong metals to form a flammable gas. He was not aware the gas was a new chemical element. 1671 - Robert Boyle - Rediscovered and described the reaction between iron filings and dilute acids producing hydrogen gas. 1766 - Henry Cavendish - First to recognise hydrogen gas as a discrete substance, produced from a metal-acid reaction. 1781 - Henry Cavendish - Discovered that water is produced when the gas is burned. 1783 - Antoine Lavoisier - Gave the element the name Hydrogen from the greek hydro for water and genes for creator. 1783 - Jacques Charles - First hydrogen-filled balloon invented, an unmanned flight was tested, and three months later Jacques himself flew in a hydrogen-filled balloon. 1800 English scientists William Nicholson and Sir Anthony Carlisle discovered that applying electric current to water produced hydrogen and oxygen gases. This process was later termed electrolysis. 1806 - Francois Isaac de Rivaz - Build first hydrogen and oxygen mix internal combustion engine. 1819 - Edward Daniel Clarke - Invented hydrogen gas blowpipe (used as a torch by jewelers and glassblowers). 1823 - Johann Wolfgang Dbereiner - Invented the Dbereiner lamp (lighter) that mixed metals and acids to form hydrogen gas and would ignite when a valve was opened. 1838 - Christian Friedrich Schoenbein - The fuel cell effect, combining hydrogen and oxygen gases to produce water and an electric current, was discovered. 1845 - Sir William Grove - Demonstrated Schoenbein's discovery on a practical scale by creating a gas battery. He earned the title Father of the Fuel Cell for his achievement 1874 - Jules Verne - Prophetically examined the potential use of hydrogen as a fuel in his popular work of fiction entitled The Mysterious Island. 1889 - Ludwig Mond and Charles Langer - Attempted to build the first fuel cell device using air and industrial coal gas. 1898 - James Dewer - Produced liquid hydrogen via regenerative cooling (vacuum flask). 1899 - James Dewer - Produced solid hydrogen. 1920s - Rudolf Erren - Converted the internal combustion engines of trucks, buses, and submarines to use hydrogen or hydrogen mixtures. 1920s - J.B.S. Haldane - Introduced the concept of renewable hydrogen in his paper Science and the Future by proposing that there will be great power stations where during windy weather the surplus power will be used for the electrolytic decomposition of water into oxygen and hydrogen. 1937 - Hindenburg airship destroyed in mid-air fire over New Jersey, believed to have been ignited by the aluminized fabric coating and static electricity. Two-thirds of the passengers died from falling or the ensuing diesel fire rather than the hydrogen fire.
1958 - Leonard Niedrach - Devised a way of modifying existing fuel cell designs to allow platinum to be used as catalyst for the necessary hydrogen oxidation and oxygen reduction reactions in the 'Grubb-Niedrach fuel cell'. 1958 NASA is formed. It's space program currently uses the most liquid hydrogen worldwide, primarily for rocket propulsion and as a fuel for fuel cells. 1959 - Francis T. Bacon - Built the first practical hydrogen-air fuel cell. The 5-kilowatt (kW) system powered a welding machine. He named his fuel cell design the Bacon Cell. Later that year, Harry Karl Ihrig, an engineer for the AllisChalmers Manufacturing Company, demonstrated the first fuel cell vehicle: a 20horsepower tractor. Hydrogen fuel cells, based upon Francis T. Bacon's design, have been used to generate on-board electricity, heat, and water for astronauts aboard the famous Apollo spacecraft and all subsequent space shuttle missions. 1970 - John O'M. Bockris - Coined the term hydrogen economy during a discussion at the General Motors (GM) Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. He later published Energy: the Solar-Hydrogen Alternative, describing his envisioned hydrogen economy where cities in the United States could be supplied with energy derived from the sun. 1972 - University of California's modified Gremlin wins the 1972 Urban Vehicle Design Competition for the lowest tailpipe emissions. The vehicle was converted to run on hydrogen supplied from an onboard tank. 1973 - The development of hydrogen fuel cells for conventional commercial applications began with the OPEC oil embargo. 1974 - Professor T. Nejat Veziroglu - Organized The Hydrogen Economy Miami Energy Conference (THEME), the first international conference held to discuss hydrogen energy. Following the conference, the scientists and engineers who attended formed the International Association for Hydrogen Energy (IAHE). 1974 - International Energy Agency (IEA) was established in response to global oil market disruptions. IEA activities included the research and development of hydrogen energy technologies. 1988 - The Soviet Union Tupolev Design Bureau successfully converted a 164-passenger TU-154 commercial jet to operate one of the jet's three engines on liquid hydrogen. The maiden flight lasted 21 minutes. 1989 - The National Hydrogen Association (NHA) formed in the United States with ten members. Today, the NHA has nearly 100 members, including representatives from the automobile and aerospace industries, federal, state, and local governments, and energy providers. The International Organization for Standardization's Technical Committee for Hydrogen Technologies was also created. 1977 - Nickel Hydrogen (NiH2) battery used for first time in a satellite. 1990 - The world's first solar-powered hydrogen production plan in southern Germany became operational. 1990 - The U.S. Congress passed the Spark M. Matsunaga Hydrogen, Research, Development and Demonstration Act (PL 101-566), which prescribed the formulation of a 5-year management and implementation plan for hydrogen research and development in the United States. 1990 - Work on a methanol-fueled 10-kilowatt (kW) Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell began through a partnership including, amongst others, GM and Ballard Power Systems. 1994 - Daimler Benz demonstrated its first NECAR I (New Electric CAR) fuel cell vehicle.
1997 - Retired NASA engineer, Addison Bain, challenged the belief that hydrogen caused the Hindenburg accident. 1997 - Power Systems announced a $300-million research collaboration on hydrogen fuel cells for transportation. 1998 - Iceland unveiled a plan to create the first hydrogen economy by 2030 with Daimler-Benz and Ballard Power Systems. 1999 - The Royal Dutch/Shell Company committed to a hydrogen future by forming a hydrogen division. Europe's first hydrogen fueling stations were opened in Germany. 1999 - A consortium of Icelandic institutions formed the Icelandic Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Company, Ltd. to further the hydrogen economy in Iceland. 2000 - Ballard Power Systems presented the world's first production-ready PEM fuel cell for automotive applications at the Detroit Auto Show. 2003 - President George W. Bush announced in his 2003 State of the Union Address a $1.2 billion hydrogen fuel initiative to develop the technology for commercially viable hydrogen-powered fuel cells, such that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by fuel cells. 2004 - U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced over $350-million devoted to hydrogen research and vehicle demonstration projects. This appropriation represented nearly one-third of President Bush's $1.2 billion commitment to research in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. The funding encompasses over 30 lead organizations and more than 100 partners selected through a competitive review process. 2004 - The world's first fuel cell-powered submarine undergoes deepwater trials (German navy). 2005 - Twenty-three states in the U.S. have hydrogen initiatives in place.
Hydrogen productionHydrogen is most often produced in labs as a by-product of other reactions, generally with metals (such as zinc) and acids. Hydrogen gas for commercial use is usually produced by steam reforming of natural gas at high temperatures (700 - 1100 degrees Celsius), where it reacts with methane to give carbon monoxide and hydrogen gas (syngas). Other means of production are partial oxidation of hydrocarbons and coal reaction. Hydrogen gas can also be formed through the electrolysis of water, where a low voltage current is passed through water. With the electrical current, water is split into hydrogen and oxygen. Oxygen bubbles are formed on the anode while hydrogen bubbles are formed at the cathode. Some labs are in research and testing phases for using solar energy and water to produce hydrogen, as well as many heat instead of electricity production methods on trial. In 2007 it was discovered that a pellet made of an alloy of aluminium and gallium, added to water, coul