Nitrogen

0.001145
14.007
[He] 2s22p3
14N
15
2
p
7
2, 5
1402.328
N
0.001145
−210.0°C, −346.0°F, 63.2 K
−195.795°C, −320.431°F, 77.355 K
Daniel Rutherford
1772
7727-37-9
20473555
More Information
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Uses and Properties

Image Explanation

Liquid nitrogen is the cryogenic liquid form of nitrogen gas (N2) at an extremely low temperature (boiling point of approximately -196ºC/-321ºF). It is typically used in various industrial, scientific, and medical applications due to its unique properties.

Appearance

A colourless, odourless gas.

Uses

Exploring the Versatile Uses of Nitrogen


Nitrogen, the silent and abundant gas that makes up a significant portion of Earth's atmosphere, has an extensive range of applications that extend far beyond just filling our lungs. From the food industry to the high-tech world of electronics, nitrogen plays a crucial role in various fields. In this article, we will delve into the versatile uses of nitrogen, highlighting its importance in enhancing our daily lives and powering essential industries.

Nitrogen in the Food Industry


Nitrogen's use in the food industry is twofold. It is primarily used to create an inert atmosphere that helps preserve the freshness of food products. When nitrogen is introduced into food packaging, it displaces the oxygen, which slows down the oxidation process, thereby extending the shelf life of the contents. This is commonly seen in the packaging of potato chips, coffee, and even pre-packaged salads.

Furthermore, liquid nitrogen, at an astonishingly low temperature of -196 degrees Celsius (-321 degrees Fahrenheit), is used for flash freezing. Flash freezing rapidly reduces the temperature of food products, creating smaller ice crystals, which preserves the texture and flavor of the items. Ice creams and frozen desserts, as well as certain fruits and vegetables, benefit from this freezing technique.

Medical and Pharmaceutical Applications


Nitrogen finds critical applications in the medical and pharmaceutical fields. In its liquid form, it is used for cryopreservation, allowing the long-term storage of human tissues, blood, and even stem cells. Cryopreservation is invaluable in the world of organ transplantation and in research for regenerative medicine.

Another noteworthy use of nitrogen is in the preparation of drugs and pharmaceuticals. It is used to create an inert atmosphere that prevents oxidation and contamination during the manufacturing process. This ensures the quality and safety of medications that millions of people rely on for their well-being.

The Steel Industry


In the steel industry, nitrogen is employed as a cooling agent during the heat treatment of steel. It enhances the hardness and strength of steel by cooling it at a controlled rate. This process is known as nitrogen quenching and is essential in producing high-quality steel products for various applications, including automotive and construction.

Electronics and Semiconductors


High-purity nitrogen is an indispensable component in the manufacturing of electronics and semiconductors. It is used to create an oxygen-free environment that prevents the formation of oxides on sensitive semiconductor materials. The semiconductor industry relies on nitrogen to ensure the integrity and reliability of microchips and electronic components.

Additionally, nitrogen is used in the production of flat-panel displays, such as those used in televisions, computers, and smartphones. Its inert properties make it ideal for purging manufacturing equipment, removing impurities, and preventing contamination.

Fire Suppression Systems


Nitrogen's ability to displace oxygen plays a critical role in fire suppression systems. These systems use nitrogen gas to rapidly reduce the oxygen concentration in a fire-affected area, suffocating the flames and preventing further combustion. Such systems are commonly found in data centers, museums, and other environments where water-based fire suppression methods are not suitable.

Welding and Metal Fabrication


Nitrogen is an essential component in various welding processes. In applications like laser cutting and plasma welding, a stream of nitrogen gas is used to protect the weld area from oxidation. This shielding gas ensures the weld is of high quality and prevents defects in the final product.

Agriculture and Plant Growth


In agriculture, nitrogen plays a significant role in plant growth. As an essential nutrient, it is a key component of fertilizers. Nitrogen fertilizers provide crops with the necessary nitrogen compounds for photosynthesis and growth. These fertilizers are vital for achieving higher crop yields and ensuring food security for the growing global population.

Conclusion


Nitrogen, often taken for granted as a non-reactive gas that makes up the majority of Earth's atmosphere, is, in fact, a versatile and indispensable resource. Its applications span across various industries, from food preservation and electronics manufacturing to medical research and agriculture. Nitrogen's inert and protective qualities make it an unsung hero that quietly influences and enhances our daily lives in numerous ways. As technology and science advance, we can expect even more innovative applications of this remarkable element.

History

In the world of chemistry, Nitrogen stands as a paradox - ubiquitous yet often overlooked. While it makes up the majority of Earth's atmosphere, Nitrogen's rich history and diverse applications are lesser-known to many. From its discovery in the late 18th century to its essential role in agriculture, industry, and modern technology, Nitrogen's journey through time is a story worth exploring. Join us as we delve into the fascinating history of Nitrogen, the invisible element that has left an indelible mark on our world.

The Discovery of Nitrogen


Nitrogen's history begins in the late 18th century when the Scottish physician and chemist Daniel Rutherford made a pivotal discovery. In 1772, Rutherford isolated Nitrogen by removing the oxygen and other gases from a sample of air, leaving behind a gas he named "noxious air" due to its suffocating properties. He didn't realize at the time that he had discovered a new element.

It wasn't until 1777, when the French chemist Antoine Lavoisier independently isolated and recognized Nitrogen as an element, that its true nature began to emerge. Lavoisier named it "azote," meaning "without life," due to its lack of reactivity. Later, the name "Nitrogen" was adopted to reflect its prevalence in nitrates, compounds containing Nitrogen and oxygen.

Nitrogen in Agriculture


Nitrogen's most significant historical impact has been in agriculture, where it plays a crucial role in plant growth. The 19th century saw a significant shift in agricultural practices, as farmers began to understand the importance of Nitrogen-rich compounds, such as nitrates and ammonia, in promoting crop yield.

In 1909, German chemists Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch revolutionized agriculture with the development of the Haber-Bosch process, which allowed for the industrial production of ammonia from Nitrogen and hydrogen. This process enabled the mass production of synthetic fertilizers, significantly increasing agricultural productivity and ultimately leading to a global population boom.

Nitrogen in the Chemical Industry


Nitrogen's versatility extends beyond agriculture into the chemical industry. It serves as a key component in the production of various chemicals, including ammonia, nitric acid, and explosives. During World War I, the production of explosives like TNT and ammonium nitrate relied heavily on Nitrogen compounds.

Nitrogen's inertness, or lack of reactivity, also makes it an ideal gas for various industrial applications. It is commonly used to displace oxygen in tanks, preventing combustion and corrosion. In the food packaging industry, Nitrogen is employed to extend the shelf life of perishable goods by reducing the oxygen content in packaging.

Nitrogen in the Space Age


Nitrogen's role in space exploration has been indispensable. Liquid Nitrogen's extremely low temperatures have been used to cool rocket engines and scientific instruments on spacecraft. The fuel used in many space missions, such as the Space Shuttle's main engines, contains Liquid Hydrogen and Liquid Oxygen, both of which require Liquid Nitrogen for pre-launch cooling.

Furthermore, Nitrogen gas is essential for creating a breathable atmosphere for astronauts in space stations and spacecraft. It is used to maintain pressure and dilute the levels of oxygen to safe and breathable concentrations.

Nitrogen in Medicine and Healthcare


Nitrogen has applications in various branches of medicine and healthcare. Liquid Nitrogen, with its ultra-cold temperatures, is used in cryopreservation to store biological samples and even human tissues and organs for transplantation.

In the medical field, Nitrogen gas is employed to freeze and remove abnormal or cancerous tissue, a process known as cryotherapy. Additionally, liquid Nitrogen is used to treat warts and skin lesions.

Environmental Concerns and Nitrogen Pollution


While Nitrogen has played a crucial role in modern agriculture, its excessive use has led to environmental concerns, particularly in the form of Nitrogen pollution. Excess Nitrogen from agricultural runoff can lead to water pollution, causing algal blooms and oxygen depletion in aquatic ecosystems.

Nitrogen oxides (NOx) released from combustion engines contribute to air pollution and are a precursor to acid rain. Managing Nitrogen use and developing more sustainable agricultural practices are essential steps in mitigating these environmental issues.

The history of Nitrogen is a multifaceted journey that spans centuries and encompasses agriculture, industry, space exploration, and healthcare. Its discovery and subsequent applications have shaped our world in profound ways, from enabling the Green Revolution to fueling space missions and advancing medical science.

As we navigate the challenges of the 21st century, responsible management of Nitrogen resources and addressing Nitrogen pollution remain critical goals. Nitrogen, the invisible but essential element, serves as a reminder of the delicate balance between harnessing the benefits of science and technology while safeguarding our environment and the planet we call home.

Atomic Data

Atomic Radiues, Non-bonded (A): 1.55
Electron Affinity (kJ mol-1): Not stable
Covalent Radiues (A): 0.71
Electronegativity (Pauling Scale): 3.04
Ionisation Energies (kJ mol-1) 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
1402.328 2856.092 4578.156 7475.057 9444.969 53266.835 64360.16 -

Oxidation States and Isotopes

Common oxidation states 5, 4, 3, 2, -3
Isotope Atomic Mass Natural Abundance Half Life Mode of Decay
14N 14.003 99.636 - -
15N 15.000 0.364 - -

Supply Risk

Relative Supply Risk: Unknown
Crustal Abundance (ppm): 19
Recycle Rate (%): Unknown
Production Conc.(%) : Unknown
Top 3 Producers:
Unknown
Top 3 Reserve Holders:
Unknown
Substitutability: Unknown
Political Stability of Top Producer: Unknown
Political Stability of Top Reserve Holder: Unknown

Pressure and Temperature Data

Specific Heat Capacity: 1040
Shear Modulus: Unknown
Young Modulus: Unknown
Bulk Modulus: Unknown
Pressure 400k Pressure 600k Pressure 800k Pressure 1000k Pressure 1200k Pressure 1400k Pressure 1600k Pressure 1800k Pressure 2000k Pressure 2200k Pressure 2400k
- - - - - - - - - - Unknown

Podcast

Transcript :



Nitrogen is found in almost every part of the world. It is a gas under a diatomic formula, N 2. It is very important in the process of preserving the natural environment that we live in. Nitrogen plays an essential role in living organisms since it is crucial in the genetic code and is necessary to the formation of proteins. It is a key constituent in various hormones, antibiotics, cyanoacrylate or even Kevlar. It also acts as a nutrient in soils and water.

In the year 1790, Jean-Antoine-Claude Chaptal, French scientist, became the person who first referred to it by its current name.

Throughout the history of nitrogen, scientists have developed a general understanding of its role in the world. In its physiologically accessible form, it is a vital ingredient that plays a crucial function in agriculture. Nevertheless, this element may have severe consequences for our climate, our lives, and our environments.

In the nineteenth century, nitrogen was recognized as an important part of the earth's atmosphere. In the twentieth century, artificial plant fertilizers made it possible for populations to rise. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, anthropogenic sources of Nitrogen had grown to three times the amount of natural terrestrial sources. This means that we could alter dietary patterns and support enough food to sustain growing populations.

Ammonia is among the most significant chemicals that include nitrogen. It has a role in the manufacturing process of explosives. Rocket fuel is another use for this substance.

The earliest attempts to synthesize ammonia from hydrogen and nitrogen at high temperatures occurred in the year 1787. This was not a cost-effective endeavor, but it did demonstrate that humans could synthesize ammonia. A more sophisticated way to synthesize ammonia was invented in the twentieth century. This process involved platinum as a catalyst and was implemented in 19 hundreds and 3 in the Birkeland Eyde process. Nowadays, the most commonly utilized ammonia production method is the Haber-Bosch process which usually involves iron-based catalyst. It is a process that converts atmospheric nitrogen into plant-available forms or plant fertilizers.

Nitrogen is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that is present in the atmosphere of our planet. Its properties include a strong covalent triple bond that makes it inert.

Nitrogen has an electron affinity of about seven kiloJoules per mol. Its total charge is negative. It has a density of 1.251 grams per cubic centimeter and has a melting point of minus 196 degrees Celsius. 14 degrees higher represents the boiling point of Nitrogen. It has a latent heat of vaporization of 2.7928 kilojoules per mol.

Nitrogen is not a metal and is slightly soluble in water. At room temperature, oxygen and nitrogen gases exhibit nonreactivity to each other, but at higher temperature, they react to produce nitric oxide.

One of the most common uses for nitrogen is as a purging agent. It can be used to help prevent combustible dust explosions. This element can be added to flammable liquid tanks to delay the oxidation of compounds.

Another major use is in refrigeration, where liquid nitrogen is used as a refrigerant. It is also used to preserve reproductive cells and to freeze food. It is used in as a livestock feed supplement. This element is also used in the plastics and chemical industries.

One particular compound that saved 50457 lifes in the US, between 1987 and 2017. We all have it in our cars. It is composed by 3 atoms of nitrogen and one atom of sodium. It is named sodium azide. An electrical charge triggered by automobile impact, causes ignition of this product, producing sodium and nitrogen gas which inflates the car's airbags.

References


  • W. M. Haynes, ed., CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, CRC Press/Taylor and Francis, Boca Raton, FL, 95th Edition, Internet Version 2015, accessed December 2014.

  • Tables of Physical & Chemical Constants, Kaye & Laby Online, 16th edition, 1995. Version 1.0 (2005), accessed December 2014.

  • J. S. Coursey, D. J. Schwab, J. J. Tsai, and R. A. Dragoset, Atomic Weights and Isotopic Compositions (version 4.1), 2015, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, accessed November 2016.

  • T. L. Cottrell, The Strengths of Chemical Bonds, Butterworth, London, 1954.

  • John Emsley, Nature’s Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements, Oxford University Press, New York, 2nd Edition, 2011.

  • Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility - Office of Science Education, It’s Elemental - The Periodic Table of Elements, accessed December 2014.