Almost all of us have read about Hydrogen in our school’s elementary science classes. This article on hydrogen facts will be more like a refresher course. Of course, we will go on to learn a lot about this element in this blurb.
From its discovery to its commercial usage, from its isotopes to it properties, this hydrogen facts sheet is going to tell you everything you need to excel in your school tests or homework.
So, what are you waiting for, huh? Jump in!
But before we start with the list of hydrogen facts, let’s quickly go through the isotopes of hydrogen.
|Isotope Name||Type and Abundance||Half-Life (HL)|
|1H (Protium)||Stable, 99.9885% availability||Stable, and hence, no HL|
|2H (Deuterium)||Stable, 0.01% availability||Stable, and hence, no HL|
|3H (Tritium)||Trace||12.32(2) y|
|4H||Radioactive||1.39(10) x 10-22 s|
|5H||Radioactive||>9.1 x 10-22 s|
|6H||Radioactive||2.90 x 10-22 s|
|7H||Radioactive||2.3 x 10-23 s|
Okay, now that you know the different isotopes of hydrogen, it is time to dig right into the facts! Ready?
Hydrogen Facts: 1-5
1. The name Hydrogen comes from two Greek words – hydro and genes. Hydro in Greek means ‘water’ while genes in Greek means ‘forming’. This means that Hydrogen is a water forming element.
2. The first ever record of hydrogen being made by some human action dates to the first half of 1500s. The person responsible for it was Theophrastus Paracelsus.
3. Theophrastus dissolved a piece of iron in sulfuric acid and noted the release of a gas. He had no idea of what gas it was. All he said was, ‘air arises and breaks forth like a wind.’
4. In 1650, the experiment of Theophrastus was repeated by a person named Turquet De Mayerne. He managed to find that the gas was flammable. However, even he had no idea that the gas was hydrogen.
5. Neither Theophrastus Paracelsus, nor Turquet De Mayerne had any idea that the gas the noticed could be a new element. In fact, Theophrastus held the notion that there were only three elements (known as tria prima) – sulfur, mercury, and salt.
Hydrogen Facts: 6-10
6. Theophrastus even believed that every other substance in the world was result of different combinations of the tria prima.
7. Theopgrastus’ experiment was once again repeated in 1670. This time, the man who conducted the experiment was Robert Boyle – an English scientist. The result was same.
8. Boyle, however, figured out that the gas that was released by the reaction of iron and sulfuric acid could burn only if air was present. He also figured out that the fraction of the air (something that we today know as oxygen) was consumed when the gas burned.
9. In 1766, another English scientist named Henry Cavendish recognized the gas as a separate element. Cavendish prepared the gas by making zinc react with hydrochloric acid.
10. Cavendish described this new element as ‘inflammable air from metals.’
Hydrogen Facts: 11-15
11. Cavendish established the fact that no matter which metal reacts with which acid, the gas produced was the same material. He arrived to this conclusion after studying the density of the gas, and its reactions.
12. Cavendish even noted that whenever the gas burned, it produced water.
13. Though Cavendish noted that the gas was a new element, he never named it. It was Antoine Lavoisier – a French scientist who named it as hydrogen in the year 1783.
14. By early 1800’s hydrogen was well-established as a new element. In 1806, Humphry Davy – an English chemist, passed a strong electric current through purified water.
15. Davy noted that when electricity passed through water, hydrogen and oxygen were formed. This proved the fact that electricity had the ability of pulling substances apart into their constituent elements.
Hydrogen Facts: 16-20
16. Davy’s experiment made him realize that it was an electrical phenomenon that bonded substances together. Essentially, what he discovered was chemical bonding’s true nature.
17. Hydrogen is the first element in the Periodic Table. The number of protons in one atom of Hydrogen is 1. This means that the atomic number of Hydrogen is 1.
18. This element is represented by the letter H in the Periodic Table.
19. Hydrogen has a very low density of 0.00008988 grams every cubic centimeter and its atomic weight is 1.00794 (or ~1.008).
20. At room temperature, the state in which this element is present is gas. This state is also known as phase.
Hydrogen Facts: 21-25
21. Hydrogen can change phase or state. From gas, it can become liquid. However, for that to happen, the temperature needs to drop to minus 259.34°C or to minus 434.7°F.
22. Liquid hydrogen is so cold that coming in contact with this element in its liquid form will give frost bite. So better stay away!
23. A liquid can boil right? So, liquid hydrogen can also boil. For hydrogen to boil, the temperature needs to be minus 252.87°C or minus 423.2°F.
24. Hydrogen has isotopes. Commonly we find 3 isotopes out of which two are very stable. In total, there are seven isotopes.
25. The most common isotope hydrogen is 1H It has 99.9885% of natural abundance.
Hydrogen Facts: 26-30
26. The three commonest isotopes of hydrogen are – protium, deuterium and tritium. Protium is just the ordinary hydrogen. It is very stable.
27. Deuterium is another isotope and is also very stable. This isotope was discovered by Harold C. Urey in 1932.
28. The third isotope, i.e., tritium is unstable and was discovered in year 1934.
29. The difference between these three isotopes is that protium has no neutron, deuterium has 1 neutron and tritium has 2 neutrons.
30. Since the general or normal hydrogen (i.e., protium) has no neutron, it cannot be placed in any group of elements in Periodic Table.
Hydrogen Facts: 31-35
31. The Royal Society says that the commonest way of producing hydrogen is to use steam to heat natural gas. This will give a mixture called syngas. Syngas is nothing but a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. This mixture is then separated to get hydrogen. There are many other methods that can be used for producing hydrogen.
33. Of the total elemental mass found in this universe, 75% is taken by hydrogen alone.
35. In its liquid phase, hydrogen has lowest density of any liquid present on this planet.
Hydrogen Facts: 36-40
36. In its solid phase (also known as crystalline hydrogen or metallic hydrogen), hydrogen has the lowest density among all crystalline solids that are present on Earth.
37. It is believed that the Big Bang produced three elements. One of these three elements is hydrogen. The remaining two are lithium and helium.
38. If there is any antimatter that has been successfully produced, then it is antihydrogen. CERN synthesized antihydrogen and this antimatter can last for about 17 minutes. To be precise, it lasts for 1000 seconds.
39. One antihydrogen atom contains one antiproton (which is nothing but negatively charged version of proton) and one positron (which is nothing but positively charged version of electron). In reality, proton is always positively charged and electron is always negatively charged.
40. Schrödinger equation’s exact solution can be achieved only and only for hydrogen atom.
Hydrogen Facts: 41-45
41. Hydrogen can produce both negative ions and positive ions. In fact, it does so with far more ease compared to any other element present on this planet.
42. If hydrogen was not there, life on Earth could not exist. Life on this planet requires solar energy to exist. This energy is produced by our Sun by burning hydrogen and converting it to helium.
43. When hydrogen reacts with fluorine, chlorine and oxygen, the reaction is explosive by nature.
44. National Balloon Museum says that the first gas balloon flight that was launched used hydrogen as the gas. That historic year was 1783 and the event happened in Paris.
45. These gas balloon flights ended in 1937 after the Hindenburg disaster. That flight caught fire and was destroyed while in midair. 36 people lost their lives in the accident. The whole incident was filmed.
Hydrogen Facts: 46-50
46. Today, liquid hydrogen is widely used. For example, NASA uses liquid hydrogen as fuel. It is also used chemical and petroleum industries. Liquid hydrogen is often used as coolant.
47. Hydrogen is extremely flammable. So, keeping fire away from hydrogen is always advisable.
48. The flame produced by hydrogen is almost invisible. This can lead to accidental burns.
49. Also, inhaling only hydrogen will cause asphyxiation. Don’t do that!
50. The two isotopes of hydrogen – deuterium and tritium are used for making thermonuclear bombs. Those bombs are known as hydrogen bombs or fusion bombs and are extremely devastating.
Hydrogen Facts: 51-55
51. Of all elements known to us hydrogen is the lightest and the simplest.
52. 90% of all atoms present in the universe are hydrogen atoms.
53. Hydrogen in its gaseous state has no odor and no color.
54. At standard pressure and room temperature, hydrogen exists as diatomic molecules, and the formula is represented as H2.
55. Usually, hydrogen is a non-metal, but if you can apply enormous pressure, it will become a liquid metal. It is believed that the strong magnetic field of Jupiter is a result of the dynamo effect caused by electrically conducting metallic hydrogen that circulates as Jupiter rotates.
Hydrogen Facts: 56-60
56. In air, it burns and forms explosive mixtures.
57. With oxidants, hydrogen reacts very violently.
58. The major source of hydrogen on Earth is water (H2O). You can find very little free hydrogen on Earth. That’s because hydrogen is extremely light, and Earth’s gravity cannot hold it.
59. Any free hydrogen on Earth will eventually escape the atmosphere and reach the space.
60. The only known element that can exist without neutrons is hydrogen.