Periodic Table -> Hydrogen


Hydrogen Details

Hydrogen Symbol: H

Hydrogen Atomic Number: 1

Hydrogen Atomic Weight: 1.0079

What is Hydrogen?

Hydrogen (symbol H, atomic number 1) is a chemical element and the most abundant and lightest element of all. It constitutes about 75 percent of the elemental mass in the universe. Hydrogen, found in plasma state, is the main element in the composition of stars in the main sequence. On earth, hydrogen occurs relatively rare in nature. It is the main component of all organic matter and water. Industrial production of hydrogen takes place by steam reforming of natural gas. Electrolysis of water and other energy-intensive hydrogen production techniques are less often used.

In terms of chemical properties, molecular hydrogen or dihydrogen (hydrogen gas) is highly flammable. It burns in air in different concentrations, ranging from 4 percent up to 75 percent by volume. Explosive mixtures form with air in concentration between 4 and 74 percent. Concentration of 5 to 95 percent forms explosive mixtures with chlorine. Ultraviolet light is emitted by pure hydrogen-oxygen flames, and they are almost invisible to the naked eye. The use of flame detector may be required to detect burning hydrogen leaks, and leaks like these can be dangerous.

Under normal conditions, hydrogen is an insipid, odorless, and colorless gas, which is made of diatomic molecules. The hydrogen atom has one electron and one unit of positive charge in the nucleus. The atomic weight of hydrogen is 1,00797 g/mol. Three isotopes of hydrogen have been observed, deuterium, protium, and tritium. They can be produced artificially through a variety of nuclear reactions and occur in small quantities in nature.

Regarding industrial applications, hydrogen is used in the synthesis of ammonia. Hydrogen is also used in sulphur elimination and fuel refinement, for example, hydrocracking or breaking down by hydrogen. Catalytic hydrogenation of unsaturated oils consumes large amounts of hydrogen as to produce solid fat. The manufacturing of organic chemical products makes use of hydrogenation as well. Significant amounts of hydrogen are employed as rocket fuels, combined with fluor or oxygen, as well as a rocket propellant. In addition, hydrogen can be used as a fuel for internal combustion engines. Scientists look into hydrogen fuel cells as a possible way to provide power, conducting research on the use of hydrogen as the fuel of the future. For example, hydrogen can be converted to diesel fuel, natural gas, and bio-fuels. In theory, there would be no emissions of toxic chemicals and CO2.

Regarding health effects, it should be noted that hydrogen is highly flammable. Explosion can be caused by a variety of reactions, and air/ gas mixtures are explosive. The substance can enter the human body through inhalation, and high concentrations of hydrogen create an oxygen-deficient environment. Persons who breathe such an atmosphere might experience a variety of symptoms, including unconsciousness, dizziness, ringing in the ears, headaches, vomiting, nausea, and depression of all senses. The skin of victims may become blue in color. Death may occur in some cases. The gas is not expected to lead to teratogenicity, embryotoxicity, mutagenicity, or mutagenicity. However, it may aggravate preexisting respiratory conditions if overexposure occurs. A dangerous concentration of hydrogen in the air is observed on loss of containment, and it happens very quickly. Oxygen deficient environments are a source of concern when it comes to animal life. Plant life is not adversely affected. Discovered by Henry Cavendish in 1776.

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