You are here

Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Basics

August 14, 2013 - 2:01pm


Photo of a scientist testing a photoelectrochemical water splitting system.Hydrogen is the simplest and most abundant element in the universe. It is a major component of water, oil, natural gas, and all living matter. Despite its simplicity and abundance, hydrogen rarely occurs naturally as a gas on Earth. It is almost always combined with other elements. It can be generated from oil, natural gas, biomass or by splitting water using renewable solar or electrical energy.

Once hydrogen is produced as molecular hydrogen, the energy present within the molecule can be released, by reacting with oxygen to produce water. This can be achieved by either traditional internal combustion engines, or by devices called fuel cells. In a fuel cell, hydrogen energy is converted directly into electricity with high efficiency and low power losses.

Hydrogen, therefore, is an energy carrier, which is used to move, store, and deliver energy produced from other sources.

Learn more about:

Or read more about EERE's hydrogen technologies research.