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Deuterium Bulb Break

  1. Apr 14, 2014 #1
    Hi Folks,
    We use a UV bulb in my workplace which contains deuterium gas. The bulb is safely contained within a housing unit inside a machine so there are no direct hazards with UV radiation etc.

    I was however wondering, what would happen should such a bulb break? I have checked some MSDS sheets on deuterium and it seems to be a flammable gas that can form explosive mixes with air.

    Does anyone know if the quanity of gas contained in a small bulb is safe? If the bulb broke upon replacement and released the gas - what would happen?

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 14, 2014 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen. It would be as dangerous as ordinary hydrogen - in particular, you don't want it near an ignition source.
  4. Apr 14, 2014 #3


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    I know from experience (children of a certain age should not be allowed unsupervised access to zinc and muriatic acid in quantities of hundreds of grams) that a light-bulb-sized volume of hydrogen at room pressure can explode unexpectedly when you're just trying to flare it off... and with enough force to embed random fragments of glass in nearby people.

    Like Vanadium50 says, keep well away from ignition sources such as sparks and open flames.
  5. Apr 15, 2014 #4


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    Ignition is problematic, but if the gas gets released, gets diluted in the air and does not burn, it is no health issue - hydrogen (including its isotope deuterium) is not toxic.

    Tritium would be a serious problem as it is radioactive, of course.
  6. Apr 15, 2014 #5
    Ok, thanks for all the helpful replies everyone.
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