Elemental molecular forms
See also: Spin isomers of hydrogen
Two bright circles on dark background, both contain numerous thin black lines inside.
First tracks observed in liquid hydrogen bubble chamber at the Bevatron
There exist two different spin isomers of hydrogen diatomic molecules that differ by the relative spin of their nuclei. In the orthohydrogen form, the spins of the two protons are parallel and form a triplet state with a molecular spin quantum number of 1 (1⁄2+1⁄2); in the parahydrogen form the spins are antiparallel and form a singlet with a molecular spin quantum number of 0 (1⁄2–1⁄2). At standard temperature and pressure, hydrogen gas contains about 25% of the para form and 75% of the ortho form, also known as the “normal form”. The equilibrium ratio of orthohydrogen to parahydrogen depends on temperature, but because the ortho form is an excited state and has a higher energy than the para form, it is unstable and cannot be purified. At very low temperatures, the equilibrium state is composed almost exclusively of the para form. The liquid and gas phase thermal properties of pure parahydrogen differ significantly from those of the normal form because of differences in rotational heat capacities, as discussed more fully in spin isomers of hydrogen. The ortho/para distinction also occurs in other hydrogen-containing molecules or functional groups, such as water and methylene, but is of little significance for their thermal properties.
The uncatalyzed interconversion between para and ortho H2 increases with increasing temperature; thus rapidly condensed H2 contains large quantities of the high-energy ortho form that converts to the para form very slowly. The ortho/para ratio in condensed H2 is an important consideration in the preparation and storage of liquid hydrogen: the conversion from ortho to para is exothermic and produces enough heat to evaporate some of the hydrogen liquid, leading to loss of liquefied material. Catalysts for the ortho-para interconversion, such as ferric oxide, activated carbon, platinized asbestos, rare earth metals, uranium compounds, chromic oxide, or some nickel compounds, are used during hydrogen cooling.
Fe + H2O → FeO + H2
2 Fe + 3 H2O → Fe2O3 + 3 H2
3 Fe + 4 H2O → Fe3O4 + 4 H2