to Make Hydrogen
How to make hydrogen is a question asked by many wanting to know
the big picture or the small picture of this process. In the big
picture, most hydrogen today is made by steam reforming natural
gas. The oil companies do this to create hydrogen for use in their
refineries to deal with the sulfur content of petroleum.
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On a small scale, there are a few home hydrogen fueling station
prototypes such as those developed by Honda that also use steam
reforming of natural gas to create hydrogen. In this scenario a
large part of the hydrogen comes from the cracking of the steam
(water or H2O) into hydrogen and oxygen and another part comes from
the hydrogen-rich content of natural gas.
Now, on a small scale there are a couple of ways to make hydrogen
that a person can actually do at home. Here is a cautionary note,
however. Hydrogen is extremely flammable and combustible so great
care must be taken when either handling the materials or in relation
to the gas.
It's not very hard to get hydrogen to blow up or catch on fire
when experimenting with it in your garage or backyard. The how to
make hydrogen question comes into play first in relation to cars
that use it for supplementary fuel.
Water is electrolyzed into HHO gas (two parts hydrogen and one
part oxygen) and sometimes the hydrogen and separated from the oxygen
as needed. Other times the HHO gas stays intact and helps an engine
achieve improved gas mileage and lower emissions.
Backyard experimenters often want to know how to make hydrogen
for other purposes such to impress friends and family. This is dangerous
so again great caution needs to be taken. Hydrogen can be made using
aluminum, water and simple cleaning compounds such as drain cleaner.
Here is a video
showing the process.
The water and drain cleaner are typically added to an aluminum
can or other bottle with aluminum in it that acts as a catalyst
and hydrogen gas is created from the combination of these elements.
Sometimes a hose with a balloon at the end will be used to show
hydrogen being created.
Another caution is in order as well as the hydrogen gas and balloon
can get very hot (and explosive). So, if you want to know how to
make hydrogen, the most favorable method first is to watch someone
else do it such as in a video and second, if you just have to do,
it exercise great caution.
By the way, hydrogen on demand
generators that are used in cars, use only a small amount of H2
at any one time that they are very safe. In addition, they are installed
so that they will only run when the car is turned on, another safety