What is Hydrogen?

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What is Hydrogen?
Hydrogen is a simple chemical element in which its atom consists only of one proton and one electron. It is a type of gas with no odor and color and is widely abundant across our own universe. It is said to be lightest among all chemical elements when measured at normal temperatures and pressure.

Energy we get from the sun is in the form of hydrogen. When we speak of radiation, it actually means the binding of four hydrogen atoms to be released as energy. The energy from the sun is considered humankind’s biggest source of power. We rely on the sun for our farming needs and for our lighting and heating requirements.

Hydrogen does not exist naturally in the earth’s atmosphere though. We only get to see hydrogen when it is combined with other chemical elements. A classic example is the water we use everyday. Water makes up about two-thirds of the earth and is actually a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen molecules. Methane gas and petroleum are products that result from combining hydrogen with carbon. Hydrogen can also be found beneath the earth’s crust.

There is a wide variety of uses for hydrogen. One such use is in the oil industry in which hydrogen is used in the refinement of fuel. A process called hydrogenation is involved in the manufacture of organic chemicals. And more recently, hydrogen is being looked into as the next big source of car fuels to combat further damage to the environment by petroleum-fed cars. NASA in the US has been using hydrogen to power their shuttles and other rockets to space since the 70s. Hydrogen has also great potential in providing heat and electricity to homes and as fuel for the airline industry.

But care must be taken when handling this chemical as it is highly flammable. It also readily mixes with other chemicals to create fires and explosions. When inhaled in very large quantities, it may cause headaches, dizziness, vomiting, unconsciousness, and even death. These symptoms are quite common in an enclosed space where oxygen concentration is very low.
When hydrogen is subjected to heat, it may lead to a violent explosion.

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