Thursday, April 8, 2010



Hydrogen has received increased attention as a renewable and environmentally-friendly option to help meet todayʼs energy needs. The road leading to an understanding of hydrogenʼs energy potential presents a fascinating tour through scientific discovery and industrial ingenuity.

1766 Hydrogen was first identified as a distinct element by British scientist Henry Cavendish after he evolved hydrogen gas by reacting zinc metal with hydrochloric acid. In a demonstration to the Royal Society of London, Cavendish applied a spark to hydrogen gas yielding water. This discovery led to his later finding that water (H2O) is made of hydrogen and oxygen.

1783 Jacques Alexander Cesar Charles, a French physicist, launched the first hydrogen balloon flight. Known as “Charliere,” the unmanned balloon flew to an altitude of three kilometers. Only three months later, Charles himself flew in his first manned hydrogen balloon.

1788 Building on the discoveries of Cavendish, French chemist Antoine Lavoisier gave hydrogen its name, which was derived from the Greek words—“hydro” and “genes,” meaning “water” and “born of.”

1800 English scientists William Nicholson and Sir Anthony Carlisle discovered that applying electric current to water produced hydrogen and oxygen gases. This process was later termed “electrolysis.”

1838 The fuel cell effect, combining hydrogen and oxygen gases to produce water and an electric current, was discovered by Swiss chemist Christian Friedrich Schoenbein.

1845 Sir William Grove, an English scientist and judge, demonstrated Schoenbeinʼs discovery on a practical scale by creating a “gas battery.” He earned the title “Father of the Fuel Cell” for his achievement

1874 Jules Verne, an English author, prophetically examined the potential use of hydrogen as a fuel in his popular work of fiction entitled The Mysterious Island. Read more.

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