Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the world, and in the whole universe for that matter. It is the lightest of all the elements. In fact, hydrogen is almost 14 times lighter than the air people breathe. Hydrogen is everywhere and is odorless, colorless and nontoxic in a gaseous state. Only recently is the true potential for hydrogen in several applications being realized.
As opposed to many other fuels, hydrogen burns clean; few pollutants emerge when burned. Hydrogen is the first element in the periodic table. Its atomic symbol is "H" and its atomic weight is 1.0079. In its natural form, hydrogen is a gas. A molecule of hydrogen contains only one proton and one electron.
There are many advantages in utilizing hydrogen. Hydrogen is completely nonpolluting. It can be used as fuel, competing with gasoline or diesel fuel. The use of hydrogen as fuel is undoubtedly safer than gasoline or natural gas. Using hydrogen can slow the depletion of a country's reserves of fossil fuels. Lastly, because of its abundance, any country on Earth can produce hydrogen.
When the Hindenburg exploded, the hydrogen used for lift was not the main fuel of the fire. The surface of the Hindenburg was coated with extremely flammable materials such as reflective aluminum paint and iron oxide. The fire was started by clouds discharging electricity. The Hindenburg would have exploded even if inflammable gases were used to provide lift.
Hydrogen can be used in a wide variety of ways. It can be used in the transportation industry as fuel. Using hydrogen fuel cells can eliminate the practice of emitting tons of pollutants into the atmosphere. Hydrogen is currently used in producing fertilizers, glass, cosmetics and even soap. Also, it can be used to heat and cool homes and buildings.
Henry Cavendish, an English chemist, was the first person to realize that hydrogen was a distinctive substance in 1766. Hydrogen was first used in fertilizers and ammonia in the year 1911. The famous incident involving the Hindenburg occurred in 1937 and resulted in the deaths of 35 people. Hydrogen made its debut as rocket fuel used by NASA shortly after its formation in 1958. Nowadays, the practical uses of hydrogen are more realized than ever.
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