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Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Basics

August 14, 2013 - 2:01pm


Photo of a woman scientist using a machine that is purifying biological catalysts for hydrogen production.Hydrogen is the simplest element on Earth. A hydrogen atom consists of only one proton and one electron. It is also the most plentiful element in the universe.

Despite its simplicity and abundance, hydrogen doesn't occur naturally as a gas on Earth. It is always combined with other elements. Water, for example, is a combination of hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen is also found in many organic compounds, notably the "hydrocarbons" that make up fuels such as gasoline, natural gas, methanol, and propane.

To generate electricity using hydrogen, pure hydrogen must first be extracted from a hydrogen-containing compound, then it can be used in a fuel cell.

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Or read more about EERE's hydrogen technologies research.