• Question: How could Hydrogen be used as a fuel?

    Asked by 848fasp38 to Miriam, Laura, David on 16 Nov 2018.
    • Photo: David Ho

      David Ho answered on 16 Nov 2018:


      Hydrogen can be burned, just like other fuels — it reacts with oxygen to make H2O, water! This is one reason why it’s an attractive fuel source, because it doesn’t give off polluting waste products.

      Another, more exciting use of hydrogen would be in nuclear fusion. In the sun, hydrogen nuclei “fuse” together to make helium nuclei, releasing massive amounts of energy — it’s why the sun is so hot and bright. If we could find a way to do this on earth, it would be a much more efficient energy source than nuclear power! But unfortunately the conditions to set fusion off are very difficult to reach, which is why we haven’t yet managed it!

    • Photo: Miriam Hogg

      Miriam Hogg answered on 16 Nov 2018:


      David has already given a great answer for this. Hydrogen can be put with oxygen to create water and a small amount of energy. Hydrogen can also be fused with other hydrogen which creates helium and an absolutely massive amount of energy. But fusing Hydrogen with itself requires really high temperatures and pressures (which is how stars make their energy).

      We are able to use the first to make water and energy (they do this on the International Space Station) but the energy they get is very low, they mostly do it for the fresh water.

      We haven’t manged to get fusion working on Earth yet, but if we did we would be able to use it to create clean energy, and a lot of it!

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