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What is hydrogen used for?

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Quick Answer

Hydrogen is used for industrial applications, including food processing, treating metals and refining, according to Hydrogen-Fuel.org. Its major use as a fuel is in the NASA space program.

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Full Answer

Hydrogen-Fuel.org states that the hydrogen industry in the U.S. produces around nine million tons of hydrogen each year, which is enough to power 20 to 30 million cars or 5 to 8 million homes. Large quantities of hydrogen are used to hydrogenate oils to form fats, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry. Moreover, it is used in welding and reducing metallic ores. Liquid hydrogen is valuable in cryogenics and superconductivity research, as its melting point is above absolute zero. Hydrogen is manufactured from methane gas and also created through the electrolysis of water and aqueous salts. It is used to produce key materials, such as ammonia for agricultural fertilizer, methanol and cyclohexane, which serve as intermediates in the production of pharmaceuticals and plastics.

Liquid hydrogen has been used as a fuel for space shuttles and rockets since the 1970s, states Hydrogen-Fuel.org. Hydrogen fuel cells power the electrical systems of shuttles and produce pure water used as drinking water by the crew. Hydrogen is also regarded as a potentially ideal carrier for solar and wind energies, as it can store and distribute energy wherever it is needed.

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