Tritium

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Tritium is an isotope of hydrogen, the lightest element. Tritium has one proton and two neutrons, making it heavier than ordinary hydrogen or its isotope deuterium. Hydrogen does not have any neutrons, only a proton. The chemical symbol for Tritium is 3H or T.


In nature, tritium is made when cosmic rays hit nitrogen in the Earth's atmosphere. Tritium has a half-life of a little more than eight years, so there isn't much in the atmosphere. People make much more tritium in nuclear reactors, so that they can make things from it.

Ways of using Tritium[change | change source]

For power[change | change source]

Tritium is important for nuclear fusion power. Tritium is added to nuclear bombs to make them more powerful when they explode.

For light[change | change source]

Tritium is often used with phosphors to make glow in the dark key-rings, and sights on rifles. Tritium makes the phosphors glow because it is radioactively unstable and gives energy to the phosphor so it can make light. Before lots of tritium could be made, people used radium to make things light up but this gave people cancer.

Fukushima[change | change source]

Radioactive decay produces tritium. High levels of tritium were found in 2013 in the sea near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant two years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.[1]