Featured Element: The Chemistry of Hydrogen

By: Carlos Bryan M. Tecson
The first element in the periodic table, being the lightest element of all, is the element Hydrogen. For sure, you have already heard of it. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, from the things found here in Earth like water, acids, plants, sugars, up to the heavenly bodies like the sun, stars, comets and the like. Hydrogen, as I’ve said earlier, is the lightest element; it has an atomic weight of 1 AMU. This little element has been found in almost everything; over ninety percent of all the atoms in Earth contain hydrogen. Let’s find out how!

Before anything else, let’s talk about Hydrogen’s history. Hydrogen was first discovered by Henry Cavendish in 1766. Hydrogen was believed to be many different things, people had no idea what is it. Antoine Lavoiser, another chemist, is the one who named it Hydrogen. Its name comes from the Greek meaning of “water producer” (“hydro” means water and ”gennao” means “to make”).

Now for the nerdy but exciting part, Hydrogen’s properties! Hydrogen exhibit a lot of properties, too many that I can’t mention all of them here, but these properties, I’m about to tell you, are the notable ones. Hydrogen is a nonmetal and is placed on the first group and first period. Hydrogen has a s1 electron configuration, like your alkali metals. However, it varies from alkali metals as it forms cations (H+) more reluctantly compared to other alkali metals. Hydrogen is also a nonmetal and it forms hydride anions (H). It can also make dihydrogen (H2) like your halogens. However, hydrogen differs from halogens with its electron affinity; it has a lower electron affinity that halogens.

Because of its unique properties, it has many uses. Hydrogen has been used for hydrogenation of vegetable oils, this process involves the use of hydrogen to convert vegetable oils to margarine. Hydrogen is also used in rocket fuels. Hydrogen is also a good reducing agent; it is used to produce metals like iron, copper, nickel from their ores. Also, there are many extensive researches done on the viability of hydrogen being a source of energy.

With these properties and uses, surely we can say that Hydrogen is one of the most important elements in the world. A lot of properties and uses for a single atom huh? Who knows, there might be still hidden facts about this little atom. Now you know something about Hydrogen, be sure to read more and you might be the one to discover on of the hidden things about hydrogen and might be the next big thing in the scientific community.






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