Density of Heavy Water

Density of Heavy Water

Pure heavy water (D2O) has a density about 11% greater than water, but is otherwise physically and chemically similar.

This difference is caused by the fact, the deuterium nucleus is twice as heavy as hydrogen nucleus. Since about 89% of the molecular weight of water comes from the single oxygen atom rather than the two hydrogen atoms, the weight of a heavy water molecule, is not substantially different from that of a normal water molecule. The molar mass of water is M(H2O) = 18.02 and the molar mass of heavy water is M(D2O) = 20.03 (each deuterium nucleus contains one neutron in contrast to hydrogen nucleus), therefore heavy water (D2O) has a density about 11% greater (20.03/18.03 = 1.112).

Pure heavy water (D2O) has its highest density 1106 kg/m3 at temperature 11.6oC (52.9oF). Also heavy water differs from most liquids in that it becomes less dense as it freezes. It has a maximum of density at 11.6oC (1106 kg/m3), whereas the density of its solid form ice is 1017 kg/m3. It must be noted, the change in density is not linear with temperature, because the volumetric thermal expansion coefficient for water is not constant over the temperature range.

Changes of Density
In general, density can be changed by changing either the pressure or the temperature. Increasing the pressure always increases the density of a material. The effect of pressure on the densities of liquids and solids is very very small. On the other hand, the density of gases is strongly affected by pressure. This is expressed by compressibility. Compressibility is a measure of the relative volume change of a fluid or solid as a response to a pressure change.

The effect of temperature on the densities of liquids and solids is also very important. Most substances expand when heated and contract when cooled. However, the amount of expansion or contraction varies, depending on the material. This phenomenon is known as thermal expansion. The change in volume of a material which undergoes a temperature change is given by following relation:


where ∆T is the change in temperature, V is the original volume, ∆V is the change in volume, and αV is the coefficient of volume expansion.

It must be noted, there are exceptions from this rule. For example, water differs from most liquids in that it becomes less dense as it freezes. It has a maximum of density at 3.98 °C (1000 kg/m3), whereas the density of ice is 917 kg/m3. It differs by about 9% and therefore ice floats on liquid water

Reactor Physics and Thermal Hydraulics:
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  9. U.S. Department of Energy, THERMODYNAMICS, HEAT TRANSFER, AND FLUID FLOW. DOE Fundamentals Handbook, Volume 1, 2 and 3. June 1992.

See above:

Thermodynamic Properties