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Uses of Heavy Water


The chemical properties of heavy water resemble closely to ordinary water. However, reactions proceed much slowly in case of heavy water.
  1. Action with Active Metals
    It reacts with active metals like sodium or calcium to liberate deuterium gas.
    2Na + 2D2O 2NaOD + D2
                                         Sodium deuteroxide
    Ca + 2D2O Ca(OD)2 + D2
                                         Calcium deuteroxide
  2. Action with Metal Oxides
    The basic oxides such as Na2O, K2O, CaO, etc, dissolve in heavy water to form heavy alkalies or deuteroxides:
    Na2O + D2O 2NaOD; CaO + D2O Ca(OD)2
  3. Action with Acid Anhydrides
    D2O dissolves the acid anhydrides or acidic oxides of non-metals like SO3, P2O5, etc., to from the corresponding acids containing deuterium:
    SO3 + D2O D2SO4
  4. Action with Metal Nitrides, Carbides, Phosphides and Arsenides
    Heavy water decomposes metal nitrides, carbides, phosphides and arsenides to form deutero - compounds.
    Mg2N2 + 6D2O 3Mg(OD)2 + 2ND3
                                                     Deutero ammonia
    Al4C3 + 12D2O 4Al(OD)3 + 3CD4 (Deuteromethane)

Uses of Heavy Water

Heavy water is largely used in the production of nuclear energy and a number of modern research experiments as given below:
  1. As a Neutron moderator
    In nuclear reactors, the high-speed neutrons are first passed through heavy water in order to slow down their speed. This helps in their capture by fissionable nuclei and release of nuclear energy.
  2. For production of Deuterium
    Heavy water is used for the production of deuterium and its compounds.
  3. As a Tracer compound
    It is used as a tracer compound for the study of the mechanism of chemical reactions and in biochemical reactions.




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