[He] 2s22p4
2, 6
−218.79°C, −361.82°F, 54.36 K
−182.962°C, −297.332°F, 90.188 K
Joseph Priestley in Wiltshire, England and independently by Carl Wilhelm Scheele in Uppsala, Sweden
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Uses and Properties

Image Explanation

In scuba diving, the breathing gas used is typically a mixture of compressed air or enriched air nitrox (EANx), which contains oxygen as one of its components. However, the use of pure oxygen (100% oxygen) for breathing underwater is not common in recreational scuba diving for several reasons.


A colourless, odourless gas.


The Life-Giving Element: Exploring the Multifaceted Uses of Oxygen

Oxygen, a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas, is the very essence of life on Earth. Its primary role in respiration is well known, but its applications extend far beyond merely sustaining human life. In this article, we will delve into the multifaceted uses of oxygen, showcasing how this vital element influences various aspects of our world, from healthcare to industry and even the realms of outer space.

The Foundation of Life

Let's begin with the most fundamental role of oxygen: supporting life. In the natural world, oxygen is essential for the respiration of animals and humans. In the process of cellular respiration, the oxygen we breathe is used to extract energy from food. Without a consistent supply of oxygen, life as we know it would cease to exist.

Medical and Healthcare Applications

The healthcare industry heavily relies on oxygen for therapeutic and diagnostic purposes. Oxygen therapy is a standard treatment for various respiratory conditions, providing patients with an increased supply of oxygen to aid their breathing. This is particularly crucial for individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and other lung disorders.

Oxygen is also used during surgical procedures and in intensive care units to maintain proper oxygen levels in patients. Moreover, hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves exposing patients to high-pressure oxygen in a hyperbaric chamber, which can promote the healing of wounds and treat conditions like decompression sickness.

Metallurgy and Welding

Oxygen isn't just vital for human respiration; it also plays a pivotal role in the realm of metallurgy and welding. Oxygen is used in a process known as oxygen cutting, which utilizes a stream of pure oxygen to cut through metals with incredible precision and speed. This method is extensively used in various industries, from automotive manufacturing to shipbuilding.

In addition to cutting, oxygen is an essential component in welding. Oxy-fuel welding, also known as gas welding, employs oxygen and a flammable gas to create a high-temperature flame for welding and cutting purposes. This method is used in everything from repair work to artistic metal sculpting.

Environmental Remediation

Oxygen is an ally in environmental cleanup efforts. In wastewater treatment plants, it is introduced to promote the growth of aerobic bacteria, which break down organic matter in sewage. This process not only treats wastewater but also reduces the environmental impact of discharging untreated sewage into natural water bodies.

In environmental remediation, aeration techniques use oxygen to help degrade pollutants in soil and groundwater. By providing oxygen to microorganisms, these techniques enhance their ability to break down and remove contaminants, thus mitigating pollution.

Space Exploration and Aviation

Venturing beyond Earth's atmosphere, oxygen is a lifeline for astronauts and cosmonauts. It is used in space suits and life support systems to provide a breathable atmosphere for space travelers. Without it, humans could not survive the inhospitable conditions of outer space.

In aviation, oxygen is crucial in aviation safety. Commercial and military aircraft are equipped with oxygen systems that provide breathable air at high altitudes where the atmosphere's oxygen concentration decreases. This is essential to prevent hypoxia, a condition caused by oxygen deficiency, and ensure the safety of pilots and passengers.

Environmental Monitoring

Oxygen is also a valuable tool for monitoring and safeguarding the environment. Dissolved oxygen measurements in natural water bodies are crucial for assessing water quality and the health of aquatic ecosystems. Insufficient dissolved oxygen can lead to aquatic life stress and even "dead zones" in bodies of water.

In the atmosphere, oxygen is used to monitor air quality. The measurement of oxygen levels, along with other gases, is employed to assess pollution, ensuring that air quality standards are met and maintained.

Oxygen in the World of Sports

Oxygen finds applications in the world of sports, where it is utilized for sports performance and recovery. In some sports, athletes use supplemental oxygen to enhance their endurance during high-altitude training. This practice, known as altitude training, exposes athletes to reduced oxygen levels, which stimulates the production of red blood cells and improves oxygen-carrying capacity.

Moreover, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used to help athletes recover from injuries and enhance their post-exertion recovery. By breathing in pure oxygen in a hyperbaric chamber, athletes can expedite healing and reduce inflammation, thus allowing them to return to their sport more quickly.


Oxygen is a remarkable and versatile element that goes beyond its fundamental role in sustaining life. Its applications span across various industries, from healthcare and metallurgy to environmental remediation and space exploration. Additionally, oxygen plays a significant role in monitoring and safeguarding our environment, and it contributes to sports performance and recovery. As our understanding of oxygen's capabilities continues to grow, we can expect even more innovative uses to emerge, further enriching our lives and the world around us.


Oxygen, the invisible and life-sustaining gas, is not only vital for our existence but also a fundamental element with a remarkable history. Its discovery and understanding have shaped the course of science, medicine, and industry. Join us on a historical journey through time as we explore the fascinating story of Oxygen, the breath of life that has captivated humanity for centuries.

The Quest for Discovery

The history of Oxygen is intertwined with the development of chemistry and our understanding of the natural world. Although Oxygen was not recognized as a distinct element until the late 18th century, its presence and effects were observed by early scientists.

One of the earliest recorded encounters with Oxygen was by the Greek philosopher Empedocles in the 5th century BCE. He proposed the existence of a substance he called "pneuma," which he believed to be responsible for respiration and combustion.

The Pioneering Work of Robert Boyle

It wasn't until the 17th century that significant strides were made in understanding the properties of gases, thanks in large part to the pioneering work of Robert Boyle, an English scientist. Boyle's experiments with gases, particularly his investigations into the behavior of air, laid the groundwork for future discoveries.

In 1662, Boyle published "New Experiments Physico-Mechanical, Touching the Spring of the Air," in which he described experiments involving the displacement of water in a closed container. He noted that as air was removed, the remaining gas supported combustion and respiration, marking an early observation of what we now know as Oxygen.

The Discovery of Oxygen by Joseph Priestley

The breakthrough in the understanding of Oxygen came in the 18th century. English chemist and theologian Joseph Priestley is often credited with the discovery of Oxygen in 1774. While conducting experiments on the "dephlogisticated air" (a term used at the time to describe Oxygen), Priestley demonstrated that this gas supported combustion and was essential for respiration.

Priestley's work laid the foundation for a more comprehensive understanding of the role of Oxygen in chemical reactions and its significance in sustaining life.

The Nomenclature and the Role of Antoine Lavoisier

The French chemist Antoine Lavoisier, often referred to as the "Father of Modern Chemistry," played a pivotal role in the discovery and understanding of Oxygen. Lavoisier recognized the importance of Oxygen in combustion and respiration and conducted meticulous experiments to elucidate its properties.

In 1778, Lavoisier proposed the name "Oxygen" for the gas, derived from the Greek words "oxus" (acid) and "genes" (producer), highlighting its role in the formation of acids. He also introduced the concept of conservation of mass, which fundamentally changed the way chemical reactions were understood.

Oxygen in Medicine and Healthcare

The recognition of Oxygen's importance in respiration led to its use in medicine and healthcare. In the early 19th century, British physician John Dalton proposed Dalton's Law, which described the behavior of gas mixtures and laid the foundation for understanding the partial pressures of gases, including Oxygen, in the atmosphere.

Oxygen therapy became a cornerstone of medical treatment for conditions such as respiratory diseases and wound healing. The development of Oxygen concentrators and ventilators in the 20th century further advanced the medical application of Oxygen.

Oxygen in Industry and Technology

Oxygen's role extends beyond respiration and combustion; it has become a critical component in various industrial processes. The production of steel and other metals relies on Oxygen's ability to react with impurities and facilitate combustion.

Additionally, Oxygen is used in the aerospace industry as a component of rocket fuel and in the production of high-performance alloys for aircraft and spacecraft. Its use in the field of welding and metal cutting has revolutionized manufacturing processes.

Oxygen in Space Exploration

The quest for exploring outer space has brought Oxygen to the forefront of space missions. Astronauts aboard spacecraft and space stations rely on Oxygen supplies to breathe, and Oxygen is also used in rocket engines for propulsion.

Moreover, Liquid Oxygen is employed as a powerful oxidizer in rocket engines, playing a crucial role in space exploration missions, including moon landings and planetary probes.

The history of Oxygen is a testament to humanity's relentless pursuit of knowledge and understanding of the natural world. From its early observations by philosophers to its discovery by pioneering scientists like Priestley and Lavoisier, Oxygen has played a central role in advancing chemistry, medicine, industry, and space exploration.

As we continue to harness the power of Oxygen in diverse fields, it remains an element of profound significance, symbolizing not only the breath of life but also the spirit of discovery and innovation that drives scientific exploration and progress.

Atomic Data

Atomic Radiues, Non-bonded (A): 1.52
Electron Affinity (kJ mol-1): 140.976
Covalent Radiues (A): 0.64
Electronegativity (Pauling Scale): 3.44
Ionisation Energies (kJ mol-1) 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
1313.942 3388.671 5300.47 7469.271 10989.584 13326.526 71330.65 84078.3

Oxidation States and Isotopes

Common oxidation states -1, -2
Isotope Atomic Mass Natural Abundance Half Life Mode of Decay
16O 15.995 99.757 - -
17O 16.999 0.038 - -
18O 17.999 0.205 - -

Supply Risk

Relative Supply Risk: Unknown
Crustal Abundance (ppm): 461000
Recycle Rate (%): Unknown
Production Conc.(%) : Unknown
Top 3 Producers:
Top 3 Reserve Holders:
Substitutability: Unknown
Political Stability of Top Producer: Unknown
Political Stability of Top Reserve Holder: Unknown

Pressure and Temperature Data

Specific Heat Capacity: 918
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


Transcript :

Oxygen, in its most fundamental form, is a gas that is present in the atmosphere due to its natural occurrence. It is a part of the cycle that controls the amount of water in the environment. The ozone layer that lies at relatively high altitudes above the surface of the Earth shields the biosphere from potentially damaging UV radiation. This is due to ozone's intense reactivity. The atomic oxygen state has been used as a theoretical explanation for the intense reactivity of ozone. Oxygen is a strong oxidizer and can be found in many natural compounds’ functionalization. Some examples of these are acetamide, a carboxylic acid; and epoxide, which is a ring of three atoms that contain oxygen. Almost all living organisms require a small amount of oxygen to survive.

Oxygen was once the standard atomic weight, but it was eclipsed by carbon 12 in 1961 Throughout Earth's history, the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere has changed significantly. In the early stages of Earth's formation, the atmosphere contained only a tiny amount of free oxygen. It wasn't until around 2.4 billion years ago that the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere grew to a size that could support life. The first oxygen influx happened about one to ten million years ago. It started a chain reaction of events that eventually resulted in the appearance of biological systems. The evolution of land plants increased the level of O2 in the atmosphere to 20%.

Oxygen is found in all kinds of mineral ores such as, silicates, sulfates, and phosphates. It was actually discovered and first isolated by Michael Sendivogius before 1604. The name oxygen was actually coined by Antoine Lavoisier in 1777, and he performed the first quantitative experiments on oxidation.

The first significant rise with in concentration of oxygen in this atmosphere was referred to as, the Great Oxidation Event, also called the Great Oxygenation Event. It was followed by several more increases over the course of Earth's history. The rise in the percentage of oxygen in the air corresponded with the widespread extinction of creatures that couldn't survive in oxygenated environments.

The earliest known source of oxygen is unbound oxygen, which appeared in the Paleoproterozoic era. It was produced by the metabolic action of early single-celled organisms. The early oceans would have been a major source of oxygen.


Oxygen, which is the third most common element in the cosmos, is essential to all forms of life on Earth. It comprises approximately 21% of the Earth's atmosphere and is found in minerals, rocks, water and air.

In the carboniferous period, the levels of oxygen in the atmosphere were around 35 percent. The occurrence and production of oxygen is highly regulated by climate and plate tectonics. For example, stratification of the water column is a major factor in determining the oxygen supply to deep water. It is also important in determining the duration and frequency of hypoxia.

Oxygen concentrations in oceanic waters are subject to constant change. It is assumed that between 50 and 80 percent of the oxygen that the world produces originates from the ocean. It is mainly produced by plankton. Plankton includes algae, drifting plants, and photosynthesizing bacteria. The amount of plankton varies with time of day, temperature, and water nutrient load.


Oxygen has many properties, including a large electronegativity and an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas. It is also a potent oxidizing agent, making it an ideal fuel for combustion. Its low melting point, however, makes it difficult to make in solid form. Known for its strong oxidation, oxygen is a major chemical element that is found in various forms. Important properties of oxygen include its oxidation states, allotropy, and its ability to form complex compounds with other elements. It's a tremendously reactive element that may create compounds with practically any other element by virtue of its broad range of possible chemical reactions. Its large electronegativity, allotropy, and paramagnetic nature make it an important component in most of the chemical processes that occur on Earth. Various properties of oxygen make it a crucial element for life. It is a highly reactive nonmetallic element. Oxygen is also an essential component in combustion. It can be prepared in multiple forms, and it is moderately soluble in water. Oxygen is an oxidizing agent that is highly reactive, and is involved in a wide variety of chemical reactions. Its large electron affinity makes it a very strong oxidizing agent. Due to the distinctive combination of its physical and chemical characteristics, it is a vital component in a wide variety of organic chemical transformations. Oxygen can be compressed into liquid form. Due to the fact that oxygen and nitrogen have distinct boiling temperatures, oxygen and nitrogen can be separated from each other by fractional distilling liquid air.

Oxygen has numerous applications in both industry and medicine. In point of fact, oxygen is involved in processes that are critical to the survival of virtually all oxygenated living creatures. For example, marine life relies on dissolved oxygen for respiration. Additionally, it plays a significant part in a variety of industrial operations, such as the manufacturing of steel, metal melting and glass production. Other industries that use it include rocket propulsion.

Oxygen is also used as a chemical feedstock and a fuel. It is used in the production of synthetic gases, including ethylene oxide, propylene oxide and nitric acid.


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