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Energy production through hydrogen combustion Featured science projectScience project video

Abstract

This experiment was done to determine the amount of energy produced through hydrogen combustion, when hydrogen is stored within soap bubbles. The tests were done by igniting hydrogen bubbles and observing the results.

Hypothesis

As the size of the hydrogen foam bubbles increase, the energy released in the combustion will be greater.

Scientific Terms

Hydrogen, energy, fossil fuel, oxygen, hydrocarbon, electrolysis, steam reforming, renewable energy

Background

Hydrogen fuel

Hydrogen is actually a carrier and not a source of energy, unlike fossil fuel or coal. Hydrogen molecules are not naturally available on our planet, with most of the hydrogen on Earth is to be found in water, bonded to oxygen, or in fossil fuel, bonded with hydrocarbons.

The production of hydrogen gas is done through steam reforming, or the electrolysis of water. Today, over 90% of hydrogen gas is produced through steam reforming, compared to only 4% through electrolysis. The energy required for steam reforming is normally obtained by burning fossil fuels like natural gas, coal or oil. Due to process efficiency, more energy is required when burning fossil fuels, compared to the amount of energy produced and stored in the hydrogen molecules. This excess energy will be mainly lost as heat in the steam reforming process.

The combustion process is a sequence of chemical reactions that happens between a fuel source and an oxidant. When hydrogen acts as the fuel source, it will react with oxygen in the atmosphere, to produce water and heat.

2H2 + O2 -> 2H2O (water) + Heat
 

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Complexity level:
8
Project cost ($):
100
Time required:
2 hours to prepare, 1 hour to conduct the science experiment
Material availability:
Hydrogen gas supplies can be obtained through your school laboratory
Safety concerns:

Suitably qualified persons are required to handle combustible gases and pressurized storage tanks. Safety goggles should be worn at all times. Fire safety precautions should be taken at all times.