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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.

Where Tritium comes from

In nature, tritium is made when cosmic rays hit nitrogen in the air. Tritium made this way lasts for a very short time, so this tritium is not used by people. Instead people make lots of tritium in nuclear reactors, so that they can make things from it.

Ways of using Tritium

For power

Tritium is important for nuclear fusion power. Tritium is used with other types of Hydrogen to create electric power.

For light

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.

A weapon

Tritium is added to nuclear bombs to make them more powerful when they explode.


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]