American Hydrogen Association
"Prosperity Without Pollution"
Frequently Asked Questions
Isn't Hydrogen Dangerous?
Yes it is. Like every other flammable fluid, we must be trained to treat hydrogen with respect. The truth is hydrogen is relatively safe. We handle dangerous products every day and don't think twice about it- gasoline, natural gas stoves, propane BBQ's, welding & scuba cylinders, drain cleaners and electricity. Hydrogen is non-toxic and non-polluting. When we burn hydrogen, the only by-product is pure water. If hydrogen leaks, it's light and floats away instead of pooling in low places like gasoline or propane waiting for a spark. One of AHA's goals is to become an international authority on hydrogen safety. Click Hydrogen Safety on the left for much more information on this important topic.
What is Solar Hydrogen?
Other than some radioactivity in the earth and lunar tides, all energy comes from the sun. Coal and petroleum were once algae that flourished in sunshine 100 million years ago. Plants use sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide to food for themselves and for us. Leftover biomass can be burned or biodigested by microbes to make methane (CH4). The methane can be used for a fuel, or even better, be dissociated into hydrogen and then the carbon can be used to make valuable goods. Sunlight can directly produce electricity with solar cells, heat water or melt metals. Indirectly the sun powers wind turbines, ocean wave generators and hydroelectric dams. We can use the solar electricy to make clean solar hydrogen by electrolyzing water. Intermittent energy from the sun or wind can be conveniently stored and transported in natural gas pipelines which may already be connected to your home.
How Do I Convert My Car to Hydrogen?
Although you can convert cars, lawnmowers, tractors and generators to clean-burning hydrogen, there is little demand for kits because of poor public access to hydrogen. In general, natural gas high pressure tanks, plumbing and valves are suitable for hydrogen. Take a basic automotive class if you are not familiar with how engines work because you may need to adjust ignition timimg to prevent backfiring. Practice on something cheap and easy like a single cyclinder Briggs & Stratton go-kart engine. The "H2 Buyer's Guide" on this website is a primary resource for parts and plans. As soon as the AHA gets our new headquarters, we'll again offer the popular weekend engine conversion classes.
Read about some real conversions:
Where Can I Get Hydrogen?
Most of the hydrogen used today is made from fossil fuels. Natural gas (methane) is reacted with steam to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide, a greehhouse gas. Hydrogen is inconvenient and expensive for individuals to buy, usually from welding supply stores. The good news is you can make your own energy at home. Hydrogen can made by electrolyzing water. Microbes can make methane and alcohol from waste biomass. As soon as the AHA gets its new headquarters, we'll again offer the popular weekend hydrogen production classes. The AHA is working to bring the first public hydrogen fueling station to Phoenix, Arizona. Click Hydrogen Technology on the left for more information.
Are Fuel Cells in Our Future?
Simply, a fuel cell chemically combines hydrogen and oxygen or air into electricity, heat and water. We often hear that fuel cells are twenty years down the road, but actually fuel cells are on the road now. In 2015, Toyota, Honda, Benz, GM, BMW and Hyndai will all begin selling fuel cell cars. Japan, England, Korea and California are building hydrogen infrastructures. Hydrogen is already available in Germany. City buses have used fuel cells for years to reduce pollution and maintenance. Closed environments like warehouses and underground mines are replacing battery vehicles with fuel cells to reduce refilling time from hours to four minutes. Critical services like hospitals and telecommunications sites are installing fuel cells for backup power instead of diesel generators, which run out of fuel or don't start at all when they're under six feet of water. Today you can buy a 1 kilowatt fuel cell to power your motorbike for about $5000. That's too much, but world-wide research is bringing the cost down every day. Keep in mind that a fuel cell is twice as efficient as a gasoline engine. That means that for your money, a fuel cell and electric motor will take you twice as far as gasoline.
Can I Cook with Hydrogen?
Sure. Cooking with a hydrogen flame isn't much different than cooking with propane or natural gas. The differences are:
See these Home Power Magazine articles for practical advice:
Do HHO On-board Hydrogen Generators Increase Gas Mileage?
Whatever the claims and, in spite of requests, at the present time the AHA has seen no reliable scientific data showing the effect of on-board HHO generators in regard to mileage, emissions or engine durability. We can only tell you not to buy a poorly constructed one. The AHA is in the process of building and buying several of these devices and they will be tested in a variety of vehicle by means of a dynomometer and an exhaust gas analyzer as well on on-road and we'll publish the results. We would appreciate hearing about anyone's experience with either gasoline or diesel engines.
What is a Spark Injector?
Spark injectors are the patented invention of AHA President Roy McAlister. The device is a combined spark plug and hydrogen direct injector for internal combustion engines. See US Patent #5394852
What is the Larsen RADAX Engine?
The RADAX engine is the invention of the late aircraft designer and AHA member, Melvin Larsen. The RADAX (Radial Axial) engine has 8 opposing pistons in four cyclinders. A rotating sinewave cam provides 24 smooth power strokes per revolution. The 220 pound RADAX produces 300 horsepower. It was designed from the ground up to run on direct-injected hydrogen. See US Patent #4834033
What are Minus Emissions?
Provided an electric car is recharged with solar electricity, we can call it a zero emissions vehicle. Likewise a fuel cell hybrid running on solar hydrogen is zero emissions. However, when we convert an internal combustion engine to straight hydrogen, much of the air pollutants taken into the intake manifold are chemically converted into non-toxic water and CO2, making the engine exhaust cleaner than the air going in. In other words - minus emissions!
What are Methane Hydrates?
Over the millenia, organisms in the ocean die and sink to the bottom of the shallow continental shelves where they decompose into methane (CH4), the primary component of natural gas. At a depth of one mile, the pressure and low temperature cause the methane to combine with water to form solid methane hydrate, also know as "fire ice," because a chunk of the stuff will burn. Although the amount of trapped methane is guessed to be 700,000 trillion cubic feet, more energy than all known coal, oil and natural gas reserves, there is no way yet to extract it without risking release of some of the methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Energy-starved Japan is very actively developing methane hydrate mining technology.
What is a GGE (Gallon Gas Equivalent)?
We know the 114,000 BTU's in every gallon of gasoline will propel our vehicle so many miles down the road. We'd like to compare the cost of hydrogen to cover the same distance, but a gallon of hydrogen just isn't equal to a gallon of gasoline. It takes 2.2 pounds of hydrogen to equal the BTU's in gasoline or 357 cubic feet at standard pressure or about as much as you can compress into a welding cylinder. This amount is what's called the Gallon Gas Equivalent (GGE). The GGE of ethanol is 1.5 gallons. The GGE of natural gas is 127 cubic feet and N.G. is sold by the GGE. That's not the end of the story. If an engine is not optimized for alternative fuels, it may give less miles than gasoline per GGE.
American Hydrogen Association
P.O. Box 4205
Mesa, AZ 85211 USA