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hydrogen

Uses

Hydrogen was formerly used for filling balloons, airships, and other lighter-than-air craft, a dangerous practice because of hydrogen's explosive flammability; there were disastrous fires, e.g., the immolation of the German airship Hindenburg at its mooring at Lakehurst, N.J., in 1937. Helium is preferable for use in lighter-than-air craft since it is not flammable. Hydrogen is used in the Haber process for the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen, in the production of methanol, and in hydrogenation of fats and oils. It is also important in low-temperature research. It can be liquefied under pressure and cooled; when the pressure is released, rapid evaporation takes place and some of the hydrogen solidifies.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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