Hydrogen is an element which combines with oxygen to produce water - this is a well-known fact. But research over a period of time has shown that hydrogen can also be used as a fuel on its own and once extracted from water it has found application in numerous industrial processes. While extracting sufficient hydrogen to make practical use of it is complicated and best left to experts, there are some simple ways in which you can make hydrogen on your own. You can make a small hydrogen generator to power your vehicle to move with water instead of gas! However, that process is best left for the time when you've gathered sufficient proficiency in preparing basic hydrogen gas on a small scale. Follow the guidelines and suggestions described further to learn how to make hydrogen.
- One quart water
- 10 tablespoons of 100% lye (sodium hydroxide)
- Pieces of aluminum scrap
- Heat resistant vessel
- Safety glasses and gloves
Getting started. Firstly, conduct this process outdoors, keep children away and make sure to be wearing protective gear. Lye is very caustic and harmful, so make sure not to make any direct contact with it. Add one quart water into the heat resistant vessel and then mix in ten tablespoons of the lye. Stir slowly until the lye has completely dissolved.
Adding the aluminum scrap. Add the pieces of aluminum scrap; these should be unpainted, since paint slows down the reaction process. Bubbles will begin to form on the surface of the aluminum as the reaction between water and sodium takes place. The bubbles released are the hydrogen gas which you can suck-up through a tube. The oxygen from the break-up of the water will combine with the aluminum to create aluminum dioxide, a solid substance that will settle down at the bottom of the vessel. This oxide looks like black sand particles.
Reaction time and precautions. This process will continue for an hour or more until all the hydrogen has been released and the aluminum has combined with the oxygen to form aluminum oxide. Avoid breathing the fumes which are released as a result of the reaction. These are harmful and dangerous. Use all precautions when handling the lye.
Hydrogen gas is flammable so make sure it is not stored in any place or with material which can ignite a fire. It is also explosive when mixed with oxygen, so never store both gases in the same container. When you split water into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen - the process is known as electrolysis. Electrolysis can be achieved using electricity other than chemical processes, but in such instances, the gas produced will have carbon emissions, especially if the electricity is produced using fossil fuels. A cleaner process would be to make hydrogen gas using solar energy.