While hydrogen is only about one part per million in the atmosphere, it is the most abundant element in the universe. It is believed that hydrogen makes up about three quarters of the mass of the universe, or over 90% of the molecules. It is found in the sun and in other stars, where it is the major fuel in the fusion reactions (see nucleosynthesis) from which stars derive their energy.
Hydrogen is prepared commercially by catalytic reaction of steam with hydrocarbons, by the reaction of steam with hot coke (carbon), by the electrolysis of water, and by the reaction of mineral acids on metals. Millions of cubic feet of hydrogen gas are produced daily in the United States alone.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.