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HARNESSING THE HYDROGEN FLAME
by Vylen AZATYAN, RAS Corresponding Member, Head of the Laboratory of Chain and Heterophasic Reactions, Institute for Structural Macrokinetics and Materials Science Problems, Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) Technical progress spurs the use of hydrogen (H2) in many industrial fields - in the production of ammonia and alcohols, reduction of metals, to name but a few. Hydrogen is regarded as a prospective fuel, too. The practical use of this gas, however, is always a hazard, as it is both readily combustible and explosive. But this risk can be minimized. The RAS Institute for Structural Macrokinetics and Materials Science Problems (ISMAN) has developed effective methods for controlling the processing of H2 combustion, explosion and detonation. Hydrogen offers indisputable advantages as a fuel. Namely the heat of combustion specific calorific (heat) value compared with organic fuels as well as the better combustion rate generating more energy per time unit.* We should also add the wide concentration range (limits) of hydrogen combustion, i.e. the range from minimal to maximal concentrations (percentagewise) enabling steady combustion of an air/hydrogen mixture. For higher efficiency of combustion its composition can be varied much more than that of organic fuels like methane, propane, butane and gasoline having the flame propagation velocity of 0.35 to 0.57 m/s. This value is several-fold as high for hydrogen-2.6 m/s; that is it bums much more vigorously and thus boosts the performance of a power unit-say, a jet engine - it fuels. This high-efficiency fuel, H2, is ever more frequently used in electrochemical generators. It is an eco-friendly fuel, with water being the only product of combustion. Small wonder that some countries have adopted projects for making automobiles operating on hydrogen. Such work is in progress here in Russia, too.** Hydrogen holds out yet another advantage due to its low viscosity, a factor facilitating its pipeline delivery. ... Read more
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