Periodic Table -> Nitrogen


Nitrogen Details

Nitrogen Symbol: N

Nitrogen Atomic Number: 7

Nitrogen Atomic Weight: 14.0067

What is Nitrogen?

Nitrogen (atomic number 7, symbol N) is a tasteless, odorless, and colorless chemical element, which, by volume, constitutes 78.09 percent of the earth's atmosphere. According to estimates, this element is 7th in abundance in the solar system and our galaxy. Scientists hypothesize that its occurrence is the result of a fusion reaction between hydrogen and carbon in supernovas. While nitrogen is a volatile element, its compounds occur commonly in the form of gases on Earth and in the atmospheres of moons and planets with atmospheres.

A number of industrially important compounds contain nitrogen, including organic nitrates (e.g. explosives and propellants), nitric acid, ammonia, and cyanides. The element has a variety of applications and is used in the production of stainless steel and electronic parts such as integrated circuits, diodes, and transistors. Pressurized and dried, nitrogen is used for high-voltage equipment. As a modified atmosphere, it helps preserve the freshness of bulk and packaged foods. The chemical is also used to reduce and concentrate the volume of samples in liquid form. The solvent evaporates and leaves the un-evaporated solvent and the salutes behind. Interestingly, nitrogen is used to pressure kegs for some types of beer such as British ales and stouts. Nitrogen-charged beers are packaged in bottles and cans with the use of a pressure-sensitive nitrogen capsule. A mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen is used to saturate beer with carbon dioxide.

This element is mainly used for the production of ammonia. Ammonia is then used to make explosives, fertilizers, and nitric acid (through the Ostwald process). Oil companies extract crude oil through high pressure nitrogen. The element is also used for low-temperature scientific experimentation, preservation of biological samples, and refrigeration. The ability to fix or combine nitrogen is a main feature of industrial chemistry. The inorganic and organic salts of nitric acids store chemical energy. Among them are compounds such as ammonium nitrate and potassium nitrate. Ammonium nitrate is an important explosive and fertilizer while potassium nitrate,
also known as saltpeter, is used in gunpowder. Other nitrate compounds, including nitrocellulose, trinitrotoluene, and nitroglycerin, are used as propellants and explosives in modern firearms. Hydrazine derivatives and hydrazine find use as monopropellants and rocket fuels. In many of these compounds, the tendency to explode and burn is due to the fact that nitrogen is present in the form of oxide and not as the more stable nitrogen molecule. The latter is formed as a product of the thermal decomposition of compounds. When nitrates explode or burn, they form a triple bond, thus producing energy.

Human activity has changed the natural supply of nitrites and nitrates. The extensive use of fertilizers is the main reason for the addition of nitrites and nitrates. They are used as food conservatives and form during chemical production. This causes surface water and groundwater nitrogen concentration, and the level of nitrogen in food increases greatly.

Nitrogen bonds affect the environment by changing the composition of certain species. Nitrates also have health effects on animals and humans. Foods with high level of nitrogen compounds decrease the amount of oxygen transported through blood, which has serious consequences for cattle. High nitrogen uptake leads to vitamin A deficiency and causes problems in the thyroid gland. In the intestines and stomach of animals, nitrates form dangerous carcinogenic compounds.

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