Hydrogen Material in Stellar Journey | World Anvil
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Hydrogen is the first element of the periodic table and the most common element in the universe. It is also the lightest, with only one proton and electron. The most common form is a hydrogen-hydrogen molecular compound, formally dihydrogen. It is the primary material used in Fusion power, the most common type of power generation and rocket thruster technology in human space. It is also used in a lot of industry, such as producing hydrochloric acid or ammonia, as well as many chemical rocket fuels. It is also used extensively in cooling systems, though water and nitrogen are more common.


Physical & Chemical Properties

Hydrogen is a colourless, odorless gas at room temperature. It is lighter than air, not very reactive, though elemental hydrogen is highly flammable. Hydrogen has three isotopes, two of which are stable. Regular hydrogen, with one proton, deuterium, with a proton and a neutron, and tritium, with two neutrons and a proton. Tritium is an unstable isotope, with a half-life of about 12.3 years. It decays into Helium-3 via beta-minus decay.


Hydrogen forms a number of compounds with most elements, and allows for hydrogen bonding, a vital part of many biological molecules. Hydrogen bonds are present in water, for example. Hydrogen-carbon bonds are also integral in hydrocarbons and organic compounds in general, which are the base of all known Earth-originated life, and some others as well. Hydrogen is also present in many of the compounds that form the base of many alien species' biochemistry.

Origin & Source

Hydrogen is nearly 75% of all normal matter in the universe. The most common places for hydrogen to be is either as plasma in a star, as stars contain most matter in a given solar system, or as single atoms of hydrogen, drifting through space, never meeting another due to the sheer scarcity of, well, everything. Most other sources of the element are from various molecules and compounds it is part of, like water or hydrocarbons.   Most hydrogen in human space is harvested by one of two methods:


Starscooping is a method very true to its name. It is, quite literally, lowering something, usually a large spaceship with hydrogen collection and cooling systems, into a star's upper layers, usually the photosphere or lower chromosphere. While it is technically very hot there, there isn't a lot of matter to transfer that heat into things, and so the ships there need relatively less protection. They still need it, especially when the hydrogen they siphon is thousands of degrees in temperature. From there, they are rapidly cooled to gas, usually via liquid hydrogen or nitrogen, and collected in big tanks. This method can also be used to harvest other elements like helium, nitrogen, or carbon, though at much lower efficiency due to their rarity. A better method of obtaining these would be to fuse them in a reactor and create heavier elements that way.  

Asteroid mining

A much simpler, and often safer, method of collection is to mine ice from asteroids. Ice is water, H2O, naturally, and thus can be separated into oxygen and hydrogen via electrolysis, a method elaborated on lower down the article. The ships that preform this process, and most mining ships in general, are quite large. They are large, long vessels with numerous ports for resource depositing, and carry hundreds or thousands of smaller drones, which are the ones to actually mine the asteroids. Sometimes, these drones are long-distance enough to mine several nearby asteroids at once. They then bring their hauls back to the mothership, where it is processed if need be, and stored, sometimes even on the outside of the ship, as is often the case for ice.

History & Usage

Everyday use

Fusion power and thrust are the most common use case of hydrogen. Specifically, fusion reactor designs like the Tokamak. Early fusion power used primarily deuterium for its fuel, but over the years, the percentage of deuterium used in reactors compared to regular hydrogen has decreased all the way until the amount is barely more than what can naturally be found with harvesting and manufacturing hydrogen. Hydrogen is dirt cheap, practically free, so fuel for reactors or spaceship thrusters is abundant. Sapient Synthetics, for example, can siphon out hydrogen from the air to power themselves. Hydrogen cations, or just protons, are also used in Antimatter reactors, and are annihilated with an equal amount of antiprotons to produce heat and thus energy.

Industrial Use

A very significant use of hydrogen aside from use in fusion is its use in chemical thrusters for spaceships. While fusion thrusters are immensely more powerful, they leave a long trail of very hot matter behind them, and thus cannot be used near stations or anything, really. Older designs and fuels for thrusters are therefore used to get an initial push away from a station, after which the fusion thrusters can be activated. This fuel is primarily composed of hydrogen mixed with other elements, like boron and helium. It is also used in cooling, and while not as common as liquid nitrogen, it is still used due to the sheer abundance of hydrogen. Another use for hydrogen is also in semiconductor production, as it can serve to stabilize them and act as an electron donor.


The overwhelmingly most common method of refining hydrogen is via electrolysis from water, from ice in asteroids. This has the added benefit of producing oxygen as well, which is naturally vital for humans, as well as a useful industrial material in its own right. It is a remarkably simple process, consisting of two nodes in the water with a current running through them. The oxygen and hydrogen form as a gas at the nodes, from where they can be collected and stored. This method is also nearly free, with fusion power being available. The produced hydrogen is more than enough to power a fusion reactor and be self-sustaining. The process can also be preformed on very large scales. Hydrogen is also produced as a byproduct in a decent few industrial processes.


Elemental hydrogen is very flammable, and can detonate or spontaneously ignite very easily, even at low temperatures. Hydrogen fires are also invisible, and very hot. Like nitrogen, liquid hydrogen, occasionally used in cooling systems, is also very, very cold, and will cause injuries with exposure of more than a few seconds. It's also, you know, not air, and so poses the danger of inert gas asphyxiation due to taking up the space of oxygen in the bloodstream, while, well, not being oxygen.


Elemental / Molecular
Effectively free; the only costs are related transport and containment costs.
The most common thing ever, quite literally.
Boiling / Condensation Point
20.27K / −252.88 °C
Melting / Freezing Point
13.99K / −259.16 °C
0.0899 g/L
Common State
Related Technologies


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Aug 21, 2023 00:48 by Tlcassis Polgara | Arrhynsia

nice article - tight, clean, and informative

Follow my worlds: Arrhynsia and Compendium and check out my author website at tlcassis.com to see my latest work!