May 27

How solid is the 2-electron H-H bond?


How solid is the 2-electron H-H bond?

By Juman Hijab

Updated on: March 23, 2021 Original date: May 27, 2020

Water splashes - white water

Why should we care?

Because water is the most important molecule on this planet. 

With the water molecule we have:

variations in weather patterns

Living beings

Living beings (water helps bring ions and gasses together in a chemical soup. It is from this mixture that early cells developed)

A universal solvent

Water is able to facilitate chemical reactionsenergy storage, as well as dissolve gasses like oxygen and nitrogen.

No temperature extremes

Avoidance of temperature extremes: the sand gets hot enough to burn one's feet, but water will not.

No acid/base extremes

Avoidance of chemical extremes (water is able to buffer acids, bases, and high levels of ions).  

A very efficient transport vehicle

Water can transport of matter from one place to another as well as from one environment ton another (rivers, oceans, etc)

Understanding H2O through understanding the H : H bond

Through understanding how hydrogen atoms join together to form H2, we can better appreciate the H:O:H bonds of water.

In effect, the hydrogen atom is much more comfortable joining an oxygen atom than staying with a sister hydrogen atom. 

How solid is the H : H bond?

About five hundred years ago, it was found that hydrogen gas could be produced by adding acids to metal.

At first, H2 was thought to be  a type of "inflammable air". It was only later that it was defined as a discrete substance; A gas that produced water when burned in air. Hence the name Hydrogen, or the "creator of water".

Inert yet explosive

The ability to produce large quantities hydrogen gas cheaply allowed flight with gas-filled dirigibles, like the Zeppelins.  Unfortunately, even though careful safety measures were taken to prevent the ignition of the hydrogen gas during flights, disaster struck in 1937 with the Hindenburg disaster. 

In spite of this, the use of hydrogen expanded to become a standard fuel. Hydrogen produces energy when it is combined with oxygen. This reaction generates electricity and energy in fuel cells and internal combustion engines. 

Some of the questions that are important to answer for the "H : H" bond:

  • Why is hydrogen gas relatively inert unless it is heated?
  • Why does a hydrogen atom's electron live in a spherical orbital?
  • How do electrons form a solid 2 electron bond, when they are always moving around?
  • How solid is the 2 electron "H : H" bond?

Hydrogen: Creating a "solid" bond.

In this course, you will learn the following: 

  • how small and very fast entities behave. This sets the stage for explaining how electrons behave in s orbitals.
  • Visualizing how the hydrogen atom's lone electron produces a spherical s orbital.
  • How two hydrogen atoms come together to create a "solid" 2 electron bond.

Get Access to
the Full Course

on this subject!

Picture credits: 

  1. ChiralJon. Hydrogen Virtual Orbital. Flickr photo-sharing, uploaded April 7, 2019.
  2. lpiepiora. Splash. Flickr photo-sharing. Taken Feb 23, 2006. 
  3. By BlueRingMedia. Shutterstock ID 152409845. Illustration of the element Hydrogen.

Juman Hijab

About the author

Juman is a retired physician after having been in clinical practice for more than four decades. Her lifelong interest has been in the chemistry of life.

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