How is hydrogen produced?
How is hydrogen produced? Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. However it is always bonded with something else like oxygen (to make water) or carbon (to make all plants). Hydrogen is all around us, but to use it, we must first separate the hydrogen from the other things bonded to it. One of hydrogen's advantages is that it can be made from a variety of local resources like water, plants, coal, natural gas and even algae. Although having so many choices sounds complicated, it's a great advantage because no one region or country has to be dependent on one resource to produce hydrogen. Whichever resources make the most sense environmentally and economically can be used.
A variety of technologies can be used to produce the power needed to release hydrogen from these resources, including fossil fuel combustion, nuclear power and renewable technologies such as solar, wind, hydropower, bioenergy and geothermal. Since hydrogen can be produced from so many different resources and with a variety of technologies, many regions of the country and the world will have increased capability for local production of fuel. For example: in some areas, local solar, wind or nuclear power could be used for electrolysis of local water resources; in other areas, locally-produced biomass products, like ethanol, could be the resource from which hydrogen is made.
Today, in the U.S., over 95% of the hydrogen is made in very large quantities from natural gas, mostly to make fertilizer and to help make gasoline cleaner by removing impurities like sulphur. As hydrogen moves from these large industrial uses to something that you and I commonly use to fuel our businesses, homes, electronics and vehicles, we expect other resources besides natural gas to be used and that it will be made in a variety of amounts depending on how much is needed.
Having this variety of choices when you make hydrogen is part of what makes hydrogen a universal fuel.
For more information see our Hydrogen Production Fact Sheets Below: