Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Hydrogen in Thunder Storms
Name: Thaddeus
Status: N/A
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2001-2002

Electrolysis is one method of making hydrogen. My question, is there hydrogen occurring naturally in a thunderstorm.

Dear Tadd-

You are correct in your assumption that hydrogen is produced naturally in thunderstorms. Lightning flashes ionize both oxygen and nitrogen, and disassociate water molecules into their component parts. Some of these ionized particles combine to form ammonia solutions and weak nitrates, which are washed into the ground with the rain. This is a "natural fertilizer" for plants that is manufactured as a byproduct of thunderstorms.

Wendell Bechtold, meteorologist
Forecaster, National Weather Service
Weather Forecast Office, St. Louis, MO

Click here to return to the Weather Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory