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.
- Action with Active Metals
It reacts with active metals like sodium or calcium to liberate deuterium gas.
2Na + 2D2O 2NaOD + D2
Ca + 2D2O Ca(OD)2 + D2
- 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
- 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
- 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
Al4C3 + 12D2O 4Al(OD)3 + 3CD4 (Deuteromethane)
Uses of Heavy WaterHeavy water is largely used in the production of nuclear energy and a number of modern research experiments as given below:
- 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.
- For production of Deuterium
Heavy water is used for the production of deuterium and its compounds.
- As a Tracer compound
It is used as a tracer compound for the study of the mechanism of chemical reactions and in biochemical reactions.