Q:

How do you make hydrogen into a liquid?

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Quick Answer

According to About.com, at standard pressure, hydrogen has a boiling point of minus 252.762 degrees Celsius, so converting it from a gas to liquid requires compressing and cooling it. Hydrogen is normally an odorless, colorless gas. It is so light in weight, it is able to diffuse from Earth's atmosphere.

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Technifab Products, Inc. says it takes a large amount of energy to compress and chill hydrogen to a liquid. These energy requirements result in a loss of 30 percent of the energy the liquid stores. Storage requires highly insulated and reinforced tanks to maintain temperature and pressure.

NASA uses liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen as a fuel and oxidizer for its rockets. Its launch pads include vacuum bottles, where the fuel is stored under pressure. Allowing a small amount of the liquid hydrogen to convert back into a gas provides the pressure needed to transfer the liquid from the storage tank into the rocket fuel tank.

The Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy reports, "On-board hydrogen storage for transportation applications continues to be one of the most technically challenging barriers to the widespread commercialization of hydrogen-fueled vehicles." For hydrogen-fueled vehicles to become competitive with those already on the road, the challenge is finding a safe and affordable method of storage that allows enough fuel to drive the vehicle 300 miles on a single fill.

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