Where Does Hydrogen Come From?

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Hydrogen does not exist in pure form in nature and instead is produced from a primary energy source, such as fossil fuels, solar, geothermal and wind energy, or extracted from other elements such as oxygen. Hydrogen is found embedded in, or coexisting with, other elements on Earth, in water and in the atmosphere. Hydrogen is quite abundant but is often difficult to extract and separate from surrounding minerals and elements.

A primary use of hydrogen is a source of energy, but hydrogen must first be produced before it is converted into usable forms of fuel and electricity. To do so, it is manufactured in the process of steam reforming, which combines hydrocarbons and water molecules to produce a vapor, or steam. Hydrogen-based steam may be combined with other substances, such as methane, to create different types of fuel. The technique of electrolysis, which uses electrical currents to decompose water into oxygen and hydrogen molecules, is another method of hydrogen production to create electricity. From the earth, hydrogen is extracted from a variety of minerals and elements. In water, it is often found coexisting with oxygen. Hydrogen also forms fossil fuels; in these substances, it frequently exists alongside carbon. Despite its usefulness, the process of hydrogen extraction is often difficult and inefficient in terms of time and economics.