Energy is used to generate and transport electric power. For example, we’ve discussed how solar energy is harvested through the sun’s electromagnetic radiation, and the process for recovering that energy using water (see figure).
Now imagine you had an electric generator using solar energy, and you wanted to run it at full power for a time. However, it takes a lot of energy to run your generator, and you need to feed it with energy over and over again to keep it running. So energy must be “charged” by moving electrons between hydrogen atoms in water molecules. The hydrogen atoms in water are the “energy producers”.
Hydrogen is a stable form of fuel. It is one of the most abundant substances on earth, and one way we can get it to work is by using it in the synthesis of fuels. Another way is to use it to produce hydrogen from water. The hydrogen atoms themselves have a double bond (meaning they are linked together like a chain) and the two hydrogen atoms in water are “fossilized” in a nuclear reaction: they are like a “ghost molecule”. Like ghosts, the hydrogen atoms in water have an energy-generating state in themselves.
Hydrogen is an atom’s weight in molecular form. Like any other atom, hydrogen is stable and is composed of one of the six basic elements: hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, aluminum, and silicon. When hydrogen is found in water, it is usually bound to four hydrogen atoms in water molecules (with the exception of sodium and chlorate, which are usually free from hydrogen bonds). Water molecules are filled with hydrogen atoms because they are packed densely into small spaces in which to house them. When the hydrogen atoms of water are split up into hydrogen atoms in neighboring water molecules, these hydrogen atoms are freed from their bonds to other atoms, and can be “charged” to move a portion of their energy from the water molecules and into neighboring water molecules of the same weight.
This process occurs in a natural “gasoline” reaction: two hydrogen atoms of hydrogen bonded to a proton (or proton-electron) pair are released in a process known as hydrogenation – to see why hydrogenation, and not just electronation (where there aren’t enough electrons to get the hydrogen atoms apart from the oxygen atoms), is the crucial step, see the next section. The energy liberated in a natural reaction is simply “free”, and is always in the form of positively charged (positively-charged) water.
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