Symbol D. The isotope of hydrogen that has a mass number 2 (r.a.m. 2.0144). Its nucleus contains one proton and one neutron. The abundance of deuterium in natural hydrogen is about 0.015%. It is present in water as the oxide HDO (see also heavy water), from which it is usually obtained by electrolysis or fractional distillation. Its chemical behaviour is almost identical to hydrogen although deuterium compounds tend to react rather more slowly than the corresponding hydrogen compounds. Its physical properties are slightly different from those of hydrogen, e.g. b.p. 23.6 K (hydrogen 20.4 K).