As far as I know, nascent hydrogen is nothing more than an especially magical unicorn entity that either makes reactions happen or at least greatly facilitates reactions happening. Many years ago, it was assumed that nascent hydrogen existed, but it was never characterized in any way because it did its work so fast as to escape detection. Now I am seeing "answers" to questions that invoke nascent hydrogen. I consider nascent hydrogen to be entirely bullcrap, pardon my language. Would someone please tell me what is going on with this?

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    $\begingroup$ Since I've started answering questions here, I've often repeated my mantra against d orbital hybridisation and the likes. I know this isn't particularly helpful, but prepare to type many comments and be patient. Spread the word, people have learned it that way, and because they might not know any better, they'll continue to propagate outdated theories. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 6:01
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    $\begingroup$ This, unfortunately, remains part of the syllabus in some parts of the world. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 6:45
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    $\begingroup$ @orthocresol it's taught in my country too, in high school, they include all theories that once had been considered to be "successful", VBT, VSEPR, CFT, till MOT. Don't know why they don't exclude outdated theories. $\endgroup$
    – Zenix
    Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 19:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Zenix - Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. VBT and CFT won't explain everything but they do work well enough for certain applications. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Commented Apr 5, 2020 at 0:37
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    $\begingroup$ @MaxW Don't throw out VBT at all; just throw away how it is taught. You'll get to the same solution as with MOT if you see it through. CFT has been amended to LFT, incorporating MOT. Surprisingly that has made it easier to understand, not more complex. So this one really is an outdated theory that shouldn't be taught at all. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 5, 2020 at 17:26

1 Answer 1


You should read the Solution to nascent hydrogen challenge by Juris Meija & Alessandro D’Ulivo Link. The authors vehemently deny the existence of any nascent hydrogen.

You will find that the concept of nascent hydrogen and nascent oxygen is still taught in some Indian chemistry textbooks. This term has literally vanished from US & European chemistry books. I just thought to search an elite journal JACS and this term is present in 2011 in the abstract of

Highly Selective Ammonia Synthesis from Nitrate with Photocatalytically Generated Hydrogen on CuPd/TiO2, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2011, 133, 5, 1150-1152

"The continuous generation of nascent hydrogen atoms on the surface of the CuPd nanoalloy, where Cu and Pd are homogeneously mixed, led to the high selectivity for ammonia."

Well, this is exactly a classical example of the usage of nascent hydrogen when Zn could reduce nitrate ions in an alkaline medium. The texts of 1940s describe those experiments very well. See Mellor's Treatise of Inorganic Chemistry.

Another 2012 RSC journal Chemical reduction of an aqueous suspension of graphene oxide by nascent hydrogen


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