Hydrogen is the lightest of all the elements. There is very little hydrogen in the earth’s atmosphere. Hydrogen is so light that its molecules are not held by the earth’s gravity and they diffuse into space.

Overall, it is the most common element in the universe. It is probable that is forms about 90% of the total mass of the universe. It is believed that the sun composes almost of hydrogen and helium.
Hydrogen occurs naturally in air as hydrogen gas. It also occurs in combined state in water, acids, petroleum, and natural gas and in almost all organic substances
(proteins, carbohydrates, fats, etc.)
Preparation and Properties of Hydrogen
The Preparation of Hydrogen Gas in a Laboratory
Explain the preparation of hydrogen gas in a laboratory
Hydrogen is most commonly prepared in the laboratory by the action of dilute mineral acids on certain metals. The most convenient way to prepare
hydrogen in the laboratory is by addition of dilute hydrochloric acid on
zinc granules.
Zinc and hydrochloric acid are chosen because they
produce the gas at a steady rate.
The gas may be collected by downward displacement of water. But when the gas is required free from moisture it is passed through water to remove
first, any hydrogen chloride gas and then through concentrated sulphuric
acid to remove moisture before being collected by upward delivery.
gas is prepared by upward delivery method because it is lighter than air
and is soluble in water.
Method of preparation
Set up the apparatus as shown in figure bellow. Into a flat-bottomed flask,
put some pieces of zinc and add dilute hydrochloric acid by means of a
thistle funnel.
There is effervescence, and a gas is given off which is
collected over water. Zinc chloride, which is formed, dissolves to form
zinc chloride solution.


Preparation of hydrogen by the action of dilute hydrochloric acid on zinc metal
Test for hydrogen
A mixture of hydrogen and air explodes with a ‘pop’ sound when a flame is applied.
The Properties of Hydrogen
Explain the properties of hydrogen
Physical properties
  1. It is a colourless, tasteless and odourless gas.
  2. It is almost insoluble in water (2 volumes of hydrogen gas dissolve in 100 volumes of water at 8ºC).
  3. It is the lightest of all gases. It is about 20 times lighter than air (one litre of hydrogen at 0ºC and 760 mmHg pressure weighs 0.0899 grams)
  4. It condenses at -254ºC to a colourless liquid (and liquid hydrogen freezes at -259 ºC to form colourless crystals).
  5. It is neutral to litmus. 6. It does not support combustion.
Chemical properties
It combines easily with other chemical substances at high temperatures.
For example, it combines with oxygen to form water. A mixture of the
two gases will not react at room temperature. At higher temperatures, or
when a flame is applied, the mixture will explode. When hydrogen and
oxygen explode, the product is water.
Water is just the common name for the substance “hydrogen oxide”.
Hydrogen acts as a reducing agent, by removing oxygen from some
compounds. For example, copper (II) oxide is reduced to copper by
heating it in a stream of hydrogen. The hydrogen is oxidized to water.
3. It is neither acidic nor basic, so it a neutral gas.
4. A mixture of hydrogen and oxygen explodes when lit.
An experiment on reduction of copper (II) oxide (CuO) using hydrogen
Aim: To investigate the effect of hydrogen on copper (II) oxide
  1. Put
    about 5 g of copper (II) oxide in a Pyrex test tube and set up the
    apparatus as shown in figure bellow. Observe and note the colour of
    copper (II) oxide before the start of the experiment. What colour is it?
  2. By
    means of a thistle funnel, add hydrochloric acid in a bottle containing
    zinc metal to generate hydrogen gas. Pass the gas through a U-tube
    containing a solid drying agent, calcium chloride.
  3. Place a dry cobalt (II) chloride paper near the mouth of a test tube as shown in figure bellow.
  4. Allow the hydrogen gas to pass through the apparatus for some time in order to displace all the air before lighting it.
  5. Heat
    the copper (II) oxide strongly until no further changes in colour of
    the cobalt (II) chloride paper takes place. You may repeat the
    experiment using lead (II) oxide and compare the results.


Reduction of copper (II) oxide with hydrogen gas
  1. What happens to the copper (II) oxide during the experiment?
  2. (a)
    What happens to cobalt (II) chloride paper? (b)Why is it used? (c) What
    other substance can serve the same purpose as cobalt (II) chloride
  3. Enough time should be allowed for all the air in the test
    tube to be replaced by hydrogen before lighting the gas. What is bad
    about lighting a mixture of air and hydrogen?
  4. What do you think can cause the size of the hydrogen flame to deteriorate?
  5. (a) What element did hydrogen take from the copper (II) oxide? (b) Can hydrogen take the same element from any metal oxide?
1. Black copper (II) oxide is reduced by hydrogen to brown copper metal.
2. (a) Cobalt (II) chloride paper changes its colour from blue to pink.
(b)The paper is used to indicate that water has been formed in the
reaction between copper (II) oxide and hydrogen. This water turns the
colour of the paper from blue to pink.
(c)The other substance that can be used instead of cobalt (II) chloride
paper is white anhydrous copper (II) sulphate, which turns blue when in
contact with water.
Enough time should be allowed for hydrogen to replace the air in the
test-tube because a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen in the tube is
explosive when lit.
4.The size of the hydrogen flame deteriorates with time as hydrogen
supply grows smaller following complete displacement of hydrogen of the
hydrochloric acid with zinc. Deterioration can also be caused by use of
excess copper (II) oxide or strong heating, meaning that most hydrogen
is used in the reduction of the oxide.
5.(a) The element taken by hydrogen from copper (II) oxide is oxygen.
In this experiment, hydrogen reduces copper (II) oxide to copper, while
hydrogen itself is oxidized to water:
(b) No. Hydrogen can only reduce those metals that are below it in the electrochemical (activity) series.


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