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Hydrogen Properties for Energy Research (HYPER) Laboratory Cool. Fuel.

Is it parahydrogen or para-hydrogen?

Here’s a paradox of paramount importance: which paradigm is right — parahydrogen or para-hydrogen?

Should a hyphen (-) be used to describe this paranormal spin-isomer of hydrogen with ‘parallel’ nuclear spins?

In this post I’ll review the history of the name, present style guides for the use of a hyphen, and risk ripping the field apart in a debate analogous to the Oxford Comma.

“Astonishing Successes” and “Bitter Disappointment” the history of hydrogen’s specific heat

The discovery of hydrogen’s para- and ortho- nuclear spin isomers was the triumph of Werner Heisenberg’s new quantum theory. So much so that the Nobel Prize committee specifically cited this … » More …

The Sounds of Hydrogen

Hydrogen is the simplest atom or molecule; comprising 75% of the known mass of the universe. No atom or molecule has a more fundamental role. So to compliment our post on the Colors of Hydrogen we asked ourselves, what does hydrogen sound like? More specifically, can we develop a fundamental scale of hydrogen tones? And if we’re lucky, this scale will give us a new feel for the complex physical interactions of hydrogen in the universe.

Traditional musical scales are built on ratios. For example, an octave between notes has a ratio of 2:1 for the frequency. At 440 Hz, the pitch produced is … » More …

So just how dangerous is hydrogen fuel?

When I tell people I work on hydrogen fuel, they immediately say something very wrong like, “Are you worried about a mushroom cloud over your lab?” — Mushroom clouds are from a nuclear bomb detonation, and I don’t plan on starting thermonuclear fusion anytime soon in my lab, and if I did, it might save the planet. The other statement I often get is, “Wow, don’t want another Hindenberg!” Again, very wrong. Detailed studies from NASA and others have shown that the … » More …

The colors of hydrogen

Hydrogen has signature colors that appear when the atoms are excited. This image from NASA-Ames shows a hydrogen arc lamp fluorescing:

Neils Bohr used the emission spectra of hydrogen to develop his model of the atom. In short, quantized energy levels release specific bands of light with unique colors. A description of the physics is here. Here are the corresponding colors and electron transitions:

The Colors of Hydrogen

I used this handy converter to go from emission wavelength to RGB color code.

Vortex Tubes – Cooling without moving parts

The focus of my current research is looking at the possibility of using a vortex tube for efficient cooling of low temperature hydrogen. Our first commercial vortex tubes [1] to be used in testing arrived the other day, so I wanted to post a little demo of how this tech works to separate hot and cold gasses from a pressurized input stream.


First, let me give a brief introduction to what happens inside a vortex tube. As you can see … » More …