Nitrogen and oxygen and their interaction
How these gases react with each other
In this article, you will find out about oxygen and nitrogen – 2 gases which successfully interact with each other.
Nitrogen itself was discovered in the second half of the 18th century, in 1772, by the chemist Henry Cavendish. In his laboratory, Cavendish passed air over heated coals with a special device. He repeated this process many time, then treated the air with alkalis. Cavendish called the substance obtained in the experiment a “suffocating” gas because of its properties. But the scientist could not understand what the suffocating gas was. If we study modern chemistry, however, it becomes clear that passing air over heated coals gives carbon dioxide, and that alkali neutralizes it. Cavendish reported his experiment to his acquaintance Joseph Priestley.
It is interesting that this is not the first case when scientists did not understand the substance that they had created in their experiments. For example, Priestley once bonded oxygen and nitrogen using an electric current, but did not understand that he had obtained argon in the experiment, which is an inert gas.
Physical properties of nitrogen
In standard conditions, nitrogen is an inert, colorless gas, without smell or taste. It is harmless to human beings, and lighter than air, but not as light as helium or hydrogen. The gas is also virtually insoluble in water, and does not react with it chemically.
The seventh element on the periodic table also has liquid and solid aggregate states.
In a liquid state, the boiling temperature of nitrogen is -195.8 degrees Celsius, and in a solid state it is -209.86 Celsius.
Chemical properties of nitrogen
The colorless gas itself has very stable molecules, they are diatomic and form a triple bond. So the molecules practically do not break apart. It is because of this property that the seventh element shows low chemical activity. All nitrogen compounds are highly unstable, because when they are heated, free nitrogen is formed.
Reaction of nitrogen with metals
Molecular nitrogen can only enter into a reaction only with a small group of metals, which display reducing properties. For example, N₂ can enter into a reaction with lithium:
6Li + N₂ = 2Li₃N
It also reacts with the light silvery metal of magnesium, but for the chemical process it must be heated to 300 degrees Celsius. The result of the reaction will be magnesium nitride – yellow-green crystals which on heating break down into magnesium and free nitrogen:
3Mg + N₂ = Mg₃N₂.
Mg₃N₂ → 3Мg + N₂ — at a temperature of 1000 degrees Celsius and higher.
If the nitride of an active metal is added to water, the process of hydrolysis begins, and ammonium forms.
Nitrogen and hydrogen
The reaction of nitrogen and hydrogen takes place at a temperature of around 400 degrees Celsius, with a pressure of 200 atmospheres, and also in the presence of iron acting as a catalyst:
3H₂ + N₂ = 2NH₃.
Reaction of nitrogen and other non-metals
Again, all interactions of substances with nitrogen take place at high temperatures, for example with boron:
2B + N₂ = 2BN.
It does not interact with many halogens, or with sulfur, but sulfides and halogenides may be obtained indirectly.
Reaction of nitrogen with oxygen
Oxygen is an element with the atomic number 8. It is a transparent gas without smell or color, and in liquid form it has a bluish color.
Oxygen can also exist in a solid aggregate state, and takes the form of blue crystals. It has a diatomic molecule.
An interesting fact is that Priestley did not initially understand that he had discovered oxygen, and believed that in he had obtained a certain component of oxygen. Priestley observed the breakdown of mercury oxide in a hermetic device. The scientist used a lens to direct the rays of the sun at the oxide.
As for the interaction of nitrogen and oxygen, the substances enter into a reaction in the presence of an electric current, because nitrogen is a very stable molecule, which reacts very unwillingly with other substances:
O₂ + N₂ = 2NO
There are several oxides of the colorless gas, the valence of which varies from one to five.
There are several compounds which can form in the reaction of nitrogen and oxygen:
N₂O — nitrous oxide;
NO — nitric oxide;
N₂O₃ — dinitrogen trioxide;
NO₂ — nitrogen dioxide;
N₂O₅ — nitrogen pentoxide.
Nitrous oxide, which is an anesthetic, is obtained with the breakdown of ammonium nitrate. It is a colorless gas with a characteristic pleasant smell. The oxide dissolves well in water.
N₂O is also a constant component of air. The process takes place at a temperature of 200 degrees Celsius. The reaction is:
NH₄NO₃ = 2Н₂О + N₂O
Nitric oxide, NO, is also a colorless gas which is practically insoluble in water. This compound does not readily give up oxygen, but it is known for its combination reactions, for example with the green-yellow toxic gas of chlorine:
2NO + Сl₂ = 2NOCl.