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Elements for Kids

Hydrogen

  • Symbol: H
  • Atomic Number: 1
  • Atomic Weight: 1.00794
  • Classification: Nonmetal
  • Phase at Room Temperature: Gas
  • Density: 0.08988 g/L @ 0°C
  • Melting Point: -259.14°C, -434.45°F
  • Boiling Point: -252.87°C, -423.17°F
  • Discovered by: Henry Cavendish in 1766


Hydrogen is the first element in the periodic table. It is the simplest possible atom composed of one proton in the nucleus which is orbited by a single electron. Hydrogen is the lightest of the elements and is the most abundant element in the universe.

Characteristics and Properties

At standard temperature and pressure hydrogen is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas.

Hydrogen is very flammable and burns with an invisible flame. It burns when it comes into contact with oxygen. The byproduct of a hydrogen and oxygen explosion is water or H2 O.

Hydrogen gas is made up of diatomic molecules designated as H2.

Where is hydrogen found on earth?

The most common place to find hydrogen on earth is in water. Each water molecule (H2 O) contains two hydrogen atoms. Hydrogen is also found in a wide range of compounds throughout the earth including hydrocarbons, acids, and hydroxides.

There is very little free hydrogen in the Earth's atmosphere because it is so light that it eventually escapes into space. The only free hydrogen on earth is deep underground.

Stars and Planets

Hydrogen is found mostly in stars and gas giant planets. The Sun is made up of mostly hydrogen. Deep inside stars, the pressure is so high that hydrogen atoms are converted to helium atoms. This conversion is called fusion and it releases heat and energy that we see as sunlight.

How is hydrogen used today?

Hydrogen is a very useful element. It is used to make ammonia for fertilizers, refining metals, and methanol for making artificial material like plastics.

Hydrogen is also used as a rocket fuel where liquid hydrogen is combined with liquid oxygen to produce a powerful explosion. Scientists hope that someday hydrogen can be used as a clean fuel alternative to gasoline.

How was it discovered?

English scientist Henry Cavendish discovered hydrogen as an element in 1766. Cavendish ran an experiment using zinc and hydrochloric acid. He discovered hydrogen and also found that it produced water when it burned.

Where did hydrogen get its name?

The name hydrogen comes from the Greek words "hydro" (meaning water) and "genes" (meaning creator). It was named by French chemist Antoine Lavoisier because when it burns it "creates water".

Ions and Isotopes

Hydrogen can take a negative charge and be an anion called a hydride. It can also take a positive charge as a cation.

Protium is the most common isotope of hydrogen. It has no neutrons and a single proton. Other common isotopes include deuterium and tritium.



Interesting Facts about Hydrogen

More on the Elements and the Periodic Table

Elements
Periodic Table

Alkali Metals
Lithium
Sodium
Potassium

Alkaline Earth Metals
Beryllium
Magnesium
Calcium
Radium

Transition Metals
Scandium
Titanium
Vanadium
Chromium
Manganese
Iron
Cobalt
Nickel
Copper
Zinc
Silver
Platinum
Gold
Mercury
Post-transition Metals
Aluminum
Gallium
Tin
Lead

Metalloids
Boron
Silicon
Germanium
Arsenic

Nonmetals
Hydrogen
Carbon
Nitrogen
Oxygen
Phosphorus
Sulfur
Halogens
Fluorine
Chlorine
Iodine

Noble Gases
Helium
Neon
Argon

Lanthanides and Actinides
Uranium
Plutonium

More Chemistry Subjects

Matter
Atom
Molecules
Isotopes
Solids, Liquids, Gases
Melting and Boiling
Chemical Bonding
Chemical Reactions
Radioactivity and Radiation
Mixtures and Compounds
Naming Compounds
Mixtures
Separating Mixtures
Solutions
Acids and Bases
Crystals
Metals
Salts and Soaps
Water
Other
Glossary and Terms
Chemistry Lab Equipment
Organic Chemistry
Famous Chemists


Science >> Chemistry for Kids >> Periodic Table





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