Chemistry (including Biochemistry)/hydrogen


QUESTION: Hi Dr. Raymond,

Can pure Hydrogen or Oxygen..explode/combust? Thanks!

ANSWER: Hello Ayee:

In complete isolation, molecular hydrogen cannot react with itself and is not a hazard.  This is not a realistic assumption ever, as H2 gas can get through almost any container due to its small size.  Also, exploding is a different thing... anything under pressure may rapidly expand.

In complete isolation, molecular oxygen, is capable of transitioning to a different form: Ozone.  Because of this O2 can electrocuted to change state.  As far as exploding, the same rules apply to pressurized oxygen.

As a side note: When you ask about explosions (a physical event) and combustion (a chemical event), you are not really talking about the same thing.  Explosions can happen without any changes in chemical state.  However, the combustion process always includes some form of oxidation or reduction of atomic species.

I hope this helps.

Best regards and good luck!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


Thanks for your answer. With regards to explode..I was thinking bursting into flames like boom instead of pop. Is that the same as combustion? Thanks!!

The way that you are using the terms explode and combustion are not the same as they are used in chemistry.  Please see the following sites for an explanation.



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Dr. Jeffery Raymond


Materials chemistry. Materials science. Spectroscopy. Polymer science. Physical Chemistry. General Physics. Technical writing. General Applied Mathematics. Nanomaterials. Optoelectronic Behavior. Science Policy.


Teaching: General Inorganic Chemistry I & II, Organic Chemistry I & II, Physical Chemistry I, Polymeric Materials, General Physics I, Calculus I & II
My prior experience includes the United States Army and three years as a development chemist in industry. Currently I am the Assistant Director of the Laboratory for Synthetic Biological Interactions. All told, 13 years of experience in research, development and science education.

Texas A&M University, American Chemical Society, POLY-ACS, SPIE

Journal of the American Chemical Society, Nanoletters, Journal of Physical Chemistry C, Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, Ultramicroscopy Proceedings of SPIE, Proceedings of MRS, Polymer News, Chemical and Engineering News, Nano Letters, Small,, Angewandte

PhD Macromolecular Science and Engineering (Photophysics/Nanomaterials Concentration), MS Materials Science, BS Chemistry and Physics, Graduate Certificate in Science Policy, AAS Chemical Technology, AAS Engineering Technology

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