A comprehensive guide to the nitrogen gaseous element

Nitrogen can be made by liquification and then fractional distillation of the air.

A comprehensive guide to the nitrogen gaseous element

Chemistry in its element: End promo Chris Smith Hello! This week, we're blowing up airbags, asphyxiating animals and getting to the bottom of gunpowder because Cambridge chemist Peter Wothers has been probing the history of nitrogen.

Chemistry in its element: argon

It's by far the most abundant element in its group in the periodic table and yet it is the last member of its family to be discovered. The other elements in its group, phosphorus, arsenic, antimony and bismuth, had all been discovered, used and abused at least years before nitrogen was known about.

It wasn't really until the 18th Century that people focussed their attention on the chemistry of the air and the preparation properties of different gases. We can only really make sense of the discovery of nitrogen by also noting the discovery of some of these other gases.

Robert Boyle noted in that when acid was added to iron filings, the mixture grew very hot and belched up copious and stinking fumes. So inflammable it was that upon the approach of a lighted candle to it, it would readily enough take fire and burn with a bluish and somewhat greenish flame.

Hydrogen was more carefully prepared and collected by the brilliant but reclusive millionaire scientist Henry Cavendish about a years later.

Nitrogen - Element information, properties and uses | Periodic Table

Cavendish called the gas inflammable air from the metals in recognition of this most striking property. He also studied the gas we know call carbon dioxide, which had first been prepared by the Scottish chemist, Joseph Black in the s.

A comprehensive guide to the nitrogen gaseous element

Black called carbon dioxide fixed air, since it was thought to be locked up or fixed in certain minerals such as limestone. It could be released from its stony prison by the action of heat or acids.

Carbon dioxide was also known by the name mephitic air the word mephitic meaning noxious or poisonous. This name obviously came from its property of destroying life, since it rapidly suffocates any animals immersed in it.

This is where the confusion with nitrogen gas begins, since pure nitrogen gas is also suffocating to animals.

Info-Science : About Nitrogen Element

If the oxygen in an enclosed quantity of air is used up, either by burning a candle in it or by confining an animal, most of the oxygen is converted to carbon dioxide gas which mixes with the nitrogen gas present in the air.

This noxious mixture no longer supports life and so was called mephitic. The crucial experiment in the discovery of nitrogen was when it was realized that there are at least two different kinds of suffocating gases in this mephitic air.

This was done by passing the mixture of gases through a solution of alkali, which absorbed the carbon dioxide but left behind the nitrogen gas. Cavendish prepared nitrogen gas by this means.

He passed air back and forth over heated charcoal which converted the oxygen in the air to carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide was then dissolved in alkali leaving behind the inert nitrogen gas, which he correctly observed was slightly less dense than common air.

Unfortunately, Cavendish didn't publish his findings.Nitrogen is an important component of many important structural, genetic and metabolic compounds in plant cells.

A comprehensive guide to the nitrogen gaseous element

It’s a major element in chlorophyll, the compound by which plants use sunlight energy to produce sugars from water and carbon dioxide, or, in other words, photosynthesis.

Stange, C.


F., Spott, O. and Müller, C. (), An inverse abundance approach to separate soil nitrogen pools and gaseous nitrogen fluxes into fractions related to ammonium, nitrate and soil organic nitrogen. Liquid nitrogen readily evaporates to form gaseous nitrogen, and hence the precautions associated with gaseous nitrogen also apply to liquid nitrogen.

For example, oxygen sensors are sometimes used as a safety precaution when working with liquid nitrogen to alert workers of gas spills into a confined space.

Nitrogen in the elemental form was considered to be inert and was even named ozote which refers to the fact that it is not reactive.

Of course nitrogen does form compounds, but the gaseous form consists of diamers (2 nitrogens bonded together). The diamer is very stable.

Chemistry in its element: nitrogen

Nitrogen is a major element in organic compounds, especially proteins. a colourless odourless relatively unreactive gaseous element that forms 78 per cent (by volume) of the air, occurs in many compounds, and is an essential constituent of proteins and nucleic acids: used in the manufacture of ammonia and other chemicals and as a refrigerant.

Nitrogen gas constitutes 78 percent of Earth's air, according to the Los Alamos National Laboratory. On the other hand, the atmosphere of Mars is only percent nitrogen.

Periodic Table of Elements: Nitrogen - N (ph-vs.com)