Hydrogen exists naturally on Earth but not in large quantities in its elemental form and so is produced industrially in several ways. By far the most common method is through steam-methane reforming (SMR) where the steam reacts with the natural gas (methane) at very high temperatures to produce syngas (a hydrogen/carbon monoxide mixture). The syngas can be further processed to convert the carbon monoxide through a reaction with steam to produce more hydrogen. Hydrogen can also be produced by using fossil fuels such as oil and coal by gasification, or by the electrolysis of water.
Hydrogen can be used as a fuel through combustion or through a hydrogen fuel cell. The space industry utilizes hydrogen as a propellant for rockets. Oil refineries use hydrogen to make lower sulphur, cleaner burning transport fuels to reduce air pollution, and the metals industries use hydrogen to reduce metal oxides and to prevent oxidation during heat-treating process.
Hydrogen is used in semiconductor manufacturing to reduce atmospheres. In the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries, hydrogenation processes are used to combine hydrogen molecules with other compounds (for example oils and fats) and so help extend shelf life, modify properties or conduct highly selective transformations.
In the hydrogen for mobility transportation sector, fuel cell vehicles use hydrogen to power an electric motor. In flat or float glass production, blends of nitrogen and hydrogen are used to purge and capture any oxygen that is present, to prevent oxidation and glass defects.
Air Products offers liquid hydrogen and compressed hydrogen gas in a variety of purities and various modes of supply around the world, thanks to our network of pipelines, hydrogen manufacturing plants and transfill facilities.