Chem Explorers

Hydrogen: A Versatile Element for the Future

Hydrogen: The Basics You Need to KnowHydrogen, with the chemical symbol H, is the first element on the periodic table and the most abundant element in the universe. It is a member of the nonmetal section, meaning it lacks the characteristics of metals such as malleability and ductility.

Hydrogen has three isotopes: H-1 (protium), H-2 (deuterium), and H-3 (tritium), with protium being the most common. Where can Hydrogen be Found?

Hydrogen can be found in a variety of sources such as water and the atmosphere. Commercial scale production primarily involves steam reforming of natural gas, or the production of syngas through various chemical reactions.

The process of water electrolysis is used to separate water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen gas.


Hydrogen’s name comes from the Greek words hydro and genes, which means “water-forming.” The discovery of hydrogen is attributed to Henry Cavendish in 1766, although it was previously studied by Paracelsus, Robert Boyle, and Antoine Lavoisier. Classification, Properties, and Characteristics of Hydrogen

General Properties

Hydrogen has an atomic mass of 1.008 u and a molar mass of 2.016 g/mol. It occurs as a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas at standard temperature and pressure (STP).

Hydrogen’s boiling point and melting point are -252.8C and -259.16C, respectively. It has a low density, enabling it to be used as a fuel in rockets and vehicles.

Additionally, hydrogen gas is highly conductive in its ionized state.

Chemical Properties

Hydrogen is highly flammable, igniting at concentrations of 4% to 75% in air. It can exist in oxidation states of -1, 0, and +1.

In organic chemistry, hydrogenation refers to the addition of hydrogen atoms to an unsaturated hydrocarbon, converting it into a saturated hydrocarbon.

Hydrogen Lewis Dot Structure

Hydrogen has one valence electron in its electron configuration, meaning it has one electron in its outermost energy level. Its atomic radius is 25 picometers (pm), and its covalent radius is 37 pm.

Hydrogen has an electronegativity value of 2.2, making it relatively non-polar. In ionic compounds, hydrogen ionizes to form the H+ ion and has an ion charge of +1.

The first ionization energy of hydrogen is 1312 kJ/mol.

Application of Hydrogen

Hydrogen’s unique properties have made it useful in various fields. It is commonly used as a fuel for vehicles as its combustion produces only water vapor.

Hydrogen is also used as a reducing agent in chemical reactions, such as the production of ammonia, and as a rocket and balloon fuel. Environmental concerns and the shift towards renewable fuels have led to an increased interest in the use of hydrogen in the energy sector.


In conclusion, hydrogen is a versatile element found in a variety of sources and has unique properties that make it useful in various industries. By understanding the history, classification, properties, and characteristics of hydrogen, one can gain a deeper insight into the potential applications of this element.

Common Uses of Hydrogen

Hydrogen is a versatile element that finds use across various industries due to its unique characteristics. The applications of hydrogen span industries such as chemicals, energy, and manufacturing.

In this section, we will discuss some of the common uses of hydrogen in more detail.

Production of Chemicals

Hydrogen gas finds significant use in the production of chemicals such as ammonia, methyl alcohol, and cyclohexane. Ammonia, a primary nitrogen fertilizer, is produced using the Haber-Bosch process, which involves hydrogenation.

Methyl alcohol or methanol is another essential chemical that is manufactured by hydrogenation of carbon monoxide. Other hydrogen production applications in the chemical industry include antifreeze agents, chemical solvents, plastics, pharmaceuticals, and other precursor chemicals.

Oil Refining

Hydrogen is used in the oil refining industry to remove sulfur impurities from crude oil and other fossil fuels. This process is called hydrodesulfurization and is carried out under high pressure and temperature in the presence of hydrogen gas.

The purified oil can then be used as fuel, reducing pollution levels in the atmosphere.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells

A hydrogen fuel cell generates electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen chemically. The process leads to the release of heat and water as by-products.

Fuel cells are highly efficient and generate electricity without the need for combustion, which minimizes waste and reduces carbon emissions. The automobile industry is exploring hydrogen fuel cells as a potential alternative to conventional combustion engines.

Besides, fuel cells also find use in portable and stationary power supplies, including remote power generators, data centers, and water treatment plants.

Other Uses

Hydrogen gas finds additional applications, including as a protective coating for metals to prevent corrosion, in the manufacturing of silicon chips, and as a fuel for rocket propulsion systems. Rocket propulsion systems utilize liquid hydrogen as fuel, producing high thrust with minimal environmental impact.

Dangers and

Interesting Facts

Hydrogen Gas

Hydrogen gas, while generally safe, can be dangerous in specific situations. Therefore, safety precautions must be taken when using and handling hydrogen gas.

Hydrogen gas is less dense than air and can displace air when it is released in a confined space, leading to suffocation. At high concentrations, it is toxic and can cause dizziness and headaches.

Moreover, hydrogen gas, when stored under high pressure, can cause frostbite if it comes into contact with skin.

Interesting Facts

Hydrogen is known for its role in achieving the first human flight on airships and later, in balloons. However, this gas is highly flammable and was responsible for the Hindenburg disaster in 1937, which led to the loss of over 30 lives.

Another interesting fact about hydrogen is that it can exist in metallic form under extreme pressure and temperature, such as found inside the sun, stars, and gas giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn. The hydrogen is in the form of deuterium, a stable isotope of hydrogen, which is also found to be abundant in oceans.

Scientists at Columbia University estimate that a cubic meter of pure hydrogen gas costs about $10, which makes hydrogen gas relatively comparable to conventional fuels.


Hydrogen gas is a versatile element that can be used in various industries, including the chemical, energy, and manufacturing sectors. Its unique properties make it useful in different applications such as producing chemicals, refining oil, powering fuel cells, and rocket propulsion systems.

Hydrogen gas can be dangerous when not handled correctly, and safety measures should thus be observed. With ongoing research and innovation, hydrogen gas remains a promising energy source for the future.

In conclusion, hydrogen is a critical element with a vast range of applications across many different industries, including chemicals, energy, and manufacturing. From producing chemicals and refining oil to powering fuel cells and rocket propulsion systems, the unique properties of hydrogen make it valuable in many applications.

It is essential to handle hydrogen gas carefully and observe safety measures during its use. The ongoing research and innovation in the industry suggest that hydrogen gas remains a promising energy source for the future.

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