Elemental hydrogen is the first one of chemical elements in the periodic table.
Its atomic number is one and its weight is 1.008.
It is one of the stable gas available in nature.
Besides it is also part of many bio-molecules like carbohydrates, proteins, fats etc.
In elemental form it is highly inflammable. But when used in controlled conditions, it has many benefits.
The hydrogen gas is used routinely in science and technology. It is used in its basic hydrogen form or in its isotopes like deuterium, tritium etc.
Important Uses of Hydrogen
1.Hydrogen peroxide: This is a hydrogen compound with a combination of hydrogen with oxygen as H2O2. Hydrogen peroxide is a routine sterilizing agent used in clinic and hospital. It is especially used for cleaning of wounds, cuts and other damaged tissue portions.
In research, it is also used for testing anti-oxidant potential of enzymes like catalase.
2. In lamps: Hydrogen gas in the deuterium form is used in deuterium arc lamps. These lamps are used to produce ultra-violet light. These lamps have a tungsten filament which produces heat. The heat in the lamp excites the deuterium atoms (H²) which produce light in ultraviolet region. These lamps are specifically used in spectroscopy.
3. In balloons: Hydrogen filled balloons are used to fly in the air.
Due to its light weight, low cost, hydrogen gas was used in air balloons for flight.
But due to its explosiveness, it is being replaced by helium.
4. As fuel for automobiles: Hydrogen fuel is a zero emission fuel which burns on reaction with oxygen. It is an interesting concept which aims to power the automobiles by use of hydrogen instead of petroleum fuels.
This technology is being developed for use in large scale as a substitute to petroleum oils based engines. The advantage of this technology is lack of air pollution as there is no harmful gas emitted by ignition.
The hydrogen fuel cell technology is also used in submarines, bikes etc.
5. As reducing agent. Hydrogen is the key elements involved in redox reactions. Addition of hydrogen is termed as reduction while removal is called as oxidation.
6. In chemical analysis:Hydrogen is used in various methods of chemical analysis. These methods include especially the atomic absorption spectroscopy. Here the hydrogen is used as fuel to generate heat in the process of experimentation. The ability of hydrogen to ignite is used in producing the neutral atoms in the process.
7. In structural identification: Many compounds have complex chemistry. The structure and the nature of bonds in between the atoms in the molecules are studied by different methods. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is one of the techniques which exploit the proton character to define the structure. The technique is also called as proton NMR. The presence of hydrogen in many bio-molecules is exploited for the purpose. Hence presence of hydrogen helps in structural identification.
8. Gas chromatography: Hydrogen is one of the gases which can be used as carrier phase in gas chromatography. This method is used to separate volatile substances from a mixture for identification.
9. Deuterium: As already seen before, the isotope of hydrogen is used to make heavy water (D2O). This D2O is used in nuclear reactors to slow down the reaction.
Besides, hydrogen present in substances provides hydrogen bond which are weak forces of attraction within or in between molecules. It especially combines with oxygen and also to small extent with nitrogen atoms to produce these attraction forces.
10. In mass destructive bombs. This may not be the use to humans except for destruction. But it has been developed as a powerful weapon of mass destruction.
It relies on the principle of nuclear fusion of hydrogen atoms isotopes.