How to Work with Hydrogen

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Hydrogen (H) is an element atomic number 1. Hydrogen is a member of group 1 of the periodic table (alkaline metals), however, it is nonmetallic (Webelements, 2009, www.webelements.com/hydrogen/). Hydrogen gas is the lightest but very flammable. Airships no longer use Hydrogen for lift because of this. In liquid form, Hydrogen is flammable as it vaporizes.

Hydrogen Protium is the most common form of Hydrogen having one proton in the nucleus and one electron. Hydrogen is the most abundant element. Protium when combined with Oxygen (2 parts) produces water which is essential for life. Protium is also used in ammonia synthesis, manufacturing or organic compounds, and rocket fuel (Lenntech, 2008, http://www.lenntech.com/Periodic-chart-elements/H-en.htm).

Hydrogen Deuterium (Hydrogen-2) is Hydrogen with one proton, one neutron, and one electron. It is also referred to as heavy water (weighs heavier than normal hydrogen). Deuterium is used in nuclear power plants so slow down particle reactions. It is also used in neutrino detection. Deuterium can be taken from sea water and when combined with Oxygen produces D2O (Anissimov, 2009, www.wisegeek.com/what-is-deuterium.htm).

Hydrogen Wave Forms Tritium (Hydrogen-3) is Hydrogen which contains one proton, two neutrons, and one electron and is radioactive. Tritium is present in very small quantities resulting from interactions of gas with cosmic radiation (Argonne National Laboratory, 2005, www.doeal.gov/SWEIS/OtherDocuments/501 tritium.pdf ). Tritium has been used in nuclear fusion (Nave,2006, hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/Hbase/nucene/fusion.html) and for nuclear testing (EPA, 2009, www.epa.gov/rpdweb00/radionuclides/tritium.html). Tritium produces very low level radiation (EPA, 2009).

Tips & Warnings

  • Liquid Hydrogen should not be handled without protective gloves and gear
  • Since Hydrogen is flammable, periodically check for leaks in storage containers and lines
  • Never handle Hydrogen alone
  • Use dry chemicals to put out a Hydrogen fire
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