Skip to main content Skip to navigation
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

Two ways to color sort hydrogen have become popular. Although this post was originally developed with the physical colors that hydrogen fluoresces in mind, the community has since developed a color coordinated renewability scheme which is shown after the physical color scheme.

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 » More …

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 …