Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hydrogen APEX Mineral

Hydrogen (H #1) is the first collectible element on the periodic table for my APEX mineral collection.  

Wikipedia Hydrogen

Amber (polymerized [C,H,O]) containing 11% Hydrogen is my Hydrogen APEX Mineral.

It would seem like such a simple thing to say
"What is the mineral containing the highest concentration of Hydrogen?"
Over 75% of the universe mass is Hydrogen.  So we have plenty of it.  How hard could this be?  Very hard it turns out.

Hydrogen’s unique properties distinguish it from all other elements in the periodic table.  Almost all Hydrogen compounds are highly reactive and only exist temporarily in nature.  The only truly stable compound on Earth is our famous Oxygen Hydrogen compound called Water.  This is where the vast majority of Hydrogen on Earth is found.  Water could be the perfect APEX mineral since by weight it really does have the highest concentration of Hydrogen.  The problem is that Water is not solid at room temperature.   Minerals by definition are solid.  I need to find something else.

The only other Hydrogen on Earth are minor amounts bound into the biological Carbon and Nitrogen cycles.  This would be things like oil, bat guano, etc.  I am trying to avoid organic compounds for APEX minerals so forget these for now.

If I fudge my definition of APEX mineral there is another possibility.  There are a huge number of hydrous minerals.  These are complex structures of H20 water or OH hydroxyls attached in a matrix with other elements.  The Earth contains so many hydrous minerals that there may actually be more water locked into the crust and mantle than there is in the oceans.  Moon rocks contain NO hydrous minerals because water did not exist to create them.

Cement is an example of a hydrous mineral.  It is very hard and you really wouldn't guess the water content unless you knew how it was made.  At high enough temperatures all hydrous minerals will liberate their water.

So if I pick the "best" hydrous mineral it turns out that at most, 5% Hydrogen can be found.  Not a very impressive APEX mineral I think.

OK.  After all my dead ends I decided to "cheat".  I'm going to pick Amber with 11% Hydrogen as my APEX mineral.  Amber is solid at room temperature and will not dissolve in water.  Amber is tree sap that was buried and fossilized and polymerized into basically a type of plastic.  Amber cannot be consumed by organisms like most organic minerals so I chose this as my best specimen.

Hydrogen Gas is quite explosive.
Liquid Hydrogen can be achieved in pressurized vessels at 20 degrees above absolute zero.
Solid Hydrogen has not been produced and may not exist.

Some stray notes on WATER which really is a magical compound:

  • Water is called the Universal Solvent because it is able to dissolve many more chemicals than most solvents. This makes it very useful in transporting chemicals through living organisms.
  • The cohesiveness or surface tension of Water makes it a great solvent for  upward water transport in plants.
  • Water can absorb and release much more heat than most other chemicals.  This makes the oceans a great moderator of climate changes.  It also gives mammals an efficient evaporative cooling mechanism (sweating).
  • Water expands when it freezes which makes an excellent floating ice heat barrier.  This prevents bodies of water from freezing solid and again moderates the climate.

Water is a great way for the universe to consolidate the two most common reactive elements.  
  • Hydrogen by definition is primordial stuff that is the most common element in the universe.
  • Helium by definition is also primordial stuff and is the second most common element in the universe.  However Helium is not reactive in the chemical sense and does not combine with other elements into minerals.  Stellar Nucleosynthesis (fusion in stars) is the only mechanism the produces and consumes Helium.
  • Oxygen is the third most common element. This is a direct result of the Stellar Nucleosynthesis processes in first generation stars that convert Hydrogen and Helium to heavier elements.  
  • Hydrogen and Oxygen are both highly reactive with other elements.  So now if we just press the GO button and make all the universe elements react we get lots and lots of water as the easiest and most stable product to get generated!!

Some Hydrogen Chemistry Notes:

Where does Hydrogen go on the periodic table?  There really is no perfect spot for it.

The most common placement is shown above at the head of column (Group) one because, like the alkali metals, it has only one electron in its valence shell. That position, however, does not truly reflect the chemical or physical properties of the element. In particular, its ionization energy is far higher than those of the other Group 1 elements, so hydrogen is not a metal, although it may be found naturally in a metallic state where extreme pressures exist, such as the core of Jupiter. 

Some periodic tables put hydrogen at the head of Group 17 because, like the halogens, it requires only one electron to complete its valence shell. But the electron affinity of hydrogen is far lower than that of any of the elements of Group 17 and the discrete hydride ion, H- , is encountered only in certain compounds.

Hydrogen is a unique element because of its ability to be found in 3 forms in which it can perform chemical reactions:

  • H+, a proton
  • H-, a hydride with a filled valence shell (electron configuration of 1s2)
  • H., a covalent-sharing its electrons

Basically, all Hydrogen compounds are highly reactive and only exist temporarily nature.  Many Hydrogen compounds will react violently in air or water at room temperature.  Others will transform very quickly into other compounds.  The only Hydrogen compounds which are stable at room temperature contain Carbon, Nitrogen, or Oxygen.

A summary of the stability of all Hydrogen-Element combinations is listed below:
  • Hydrogen - Group 1 compounds all react violently with air and water.
  • Hydrogen - Group 2 compounds all react vigorously with water.
  • Hydrogen - Group 3-12 compounds (Hydrides) are not possible in many cases and are very volatile where they exist.
  • Hydrogen - Group 13 compounds all react violently with air.
  • Hydrogen - Group 14 compounds (including hydrocarbons) all are very flammable or are unstable.
  • Hydrogen - Group 15 compounds are flammable and are commonly found in explosives.  The interesting thing is that explosives are not made from other Hydrogen Group compounds because they are TOO explosive and TOO dangerous.
  • Hydrogen - Group 16 compounds are toxic and flammable.
  • Hydrogen - Group 17 compounds are highly corrosive and toxic.