What is a Deuterium or Heavy water?

What is a Deuterium or Heavy water?

Deuterium Water 2H

Heavy water is a form of water that contains a larger than normal amount of the hydrogen isotope deuterium (2H or D, also known as heavy hydrogen), rather than the common hydrogen-1 (1H or H, also called protium) that makes up most of the hydrogen in normal water.

The presence of deuterium gives the chemical different nuclear properties, and the increase of mass gives it different physical and chemical properties compared to normal “light water”. Deuterium is a hydrogen isotope with a nucleus containing a neutron and a proton. The nucleus of a protium (normal hydrogen) atom consists of just a proton. The additional neutron makes a deuterium atom roughly twice as heavy as a protium atom. Heavy water is not radioactive. In its pure form, it has a density about 11% greater than water but is otherwise physically and chemically similar.

Nevertheless, the various differences in deuterium-containing water (especially affecting the biological properties) are larger than in any other commonly occurring isotope-substituted because deuterium is unique among heavy stable isotopes in being twice as heavy as the lightest isotope. This difference increases the strength of water’s hydrogen-oxygen bonds, and this, in turn, is enough to cause differences that are important to some biochemical reactions. The human body naturally contains deuterium equivalent to about five grams of heavy water, which is harmless. In a state of intense heat agitation, their nuclei can fuse into single nuclei of helium. As this fusion leads to a lower final energy level, the reaction releases a very large amount of energy. The vast energy potential of nuclear fusion was first exploited in thermonuclear weapons, or hydrogen bombs, which were developed in the decade immediately following World War II. Meanwhile, the potential peaceful applications of nuclear fusion, especially in view of the essentially limitless supply of fusion fuel and unlimited new material fusion on Earth, have encouraged an effort to harness this process for the production of various limitless potentials. Fusion is the basis of the radiation of stars, including the sun. However, practical energy generation requires the deuterium-tritium reaction for two reasons: first, the rate of reactions between deuterium and tritium is much higher than that between protons; second, the net energy release from the deuterium-tritium reaction is 40 times greater than that of the H-H reaction. Scientists and the knowledge seekers around the world are seeking to reproduce it in the laboratories and enthusiastic home labs.

 

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