Hydrogen was discovered as a separate element by Henry Cavandish in 1766. The physical properties of hydrogen are as follows. Hydrogen is categorized as an alkali metal. In Hydrogen’s physical state (at 20°C & 1atm) it is a gas. Its crystal structure is hexagonal in shape. Hydrogen has an atomic mass of 1.00794 atomic mass units, making it the lightest known element. Hydrogen has a boiling point of 20.268 K, 252.732°C, and 422.918°F. It has a melting point of 14.025K or 434°F. Also it has Heat of Vaporization of 0.44936kJ/mol.
Hydrogen will also become a liquid at -240°C and a pressure of 13atm. Hydrogen is slightly soluble in water. This element also has a density of 0.0899g/L @ 273K & 1atm. The electron configuration of hydrogen is 1s1. Hydrogen is tasteless, colorless, odorless, highly explosive and extremely flammable.
Three ways of obtaining hydrogen are electrolysis of water, displacing it from the water molecular by the use of a metal, and the production of hydrogen by bacteria.
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In the electrolysis of water, an electrical current is passed through water to cause it to decompose, is one of the most common methods of obtaining hydrogen, it is also the most dangerous. Another method of obtaining water is to displace it from the water molecule by using a metal such as zinc or iron. Bacteria and certain types of algae can also be used to produce hydrogen. An enzyme of certain algae absorbs the sun’s solar energy, these acts as a catalyst in splitting water molecules. The bacteria that produce hydrogen produce hydrogen in the same way algae do, but they differ in that bacteria need a substrate to grow on.
Hydrogen has many useful and interesting applications. Hydrogen can be used in the food industry to convert liquid fats to into solid shortenings (hydrogenation). The majority of hydrogen is converted into ammonia (by the Haber process). About a third is used to reduce copper and other metals from their ores (hydrometallurgical extraction). Hydrogen is also being experimented with as a new means of fuel for transportation. Also hydrogen’s isotopes were used in the creation of the hydrogen bomb and are one of the main ingredients in the “take off” propulsion system for NASA’s space craft.
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