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The Weirdest Science Story Of The Year

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It’s not about aliens or Bigfoot. But it is about something showing up where scientists hardly expected.

Hydrogen is often touted as a clean fuel. Its product is water, no carbon dioxide to heat the earth! But hydrogen must be split from water, so it’s not a fuel in the same way hydrocarbons are, but rather a way to store energy from solar, wind, or nuclear.

Hydrogen is the simplest atom and likes to live as a diatomic molecule. But it’s reactive and forms things like water, giving up its energy in the process. In nature, microbes like diatomic hydrogen as an energy source. Further, its small size lets it escape from geological traps that might be good enough to hold methane.

That’s been the common wisdom. But now geological deposits of hydrogen are being found.

Researchers have discovered a massive spring of hydrogen, bubbling out of a deep mine in Albania. Although it may not be economical to exploit, the surprisingly high flow of the gas is likely to raise interest in the emerging field of natural hydrogen, the overlooked idea that Earth itself could be a source of the clean-burning fuel.

This is only one. The link in the quote lists others.

Why didn’t we see hydrogen deposits before? A big part of it is that we weren’t looking for them. Another part is that hydrogen is harder to detect than hydrocarbons, so why bother if hydrocarbons are what you’re looking for. Yet another is that we don’t know where to look for it, although the two linked articles contain some hints.

The deposit described in the article isn’t large enough to be exploited economically. But the fact that it and others exist suggest that searching for more is worthwhile.

Cross-posted to Nuclear Diner

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