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|Atomic Number:||7||Atomic Symbol:||N|
|Atomic Weight:||14.00674||Electron Configuration:||2-5|
|Melting Point:||-209.9oC||Boiling Point:||-195.8oC|
|Uses:||rocket fuels, produce ammonia and other fertilizers, cold-storage|
History(L. nitrum, Gr. nitron, native soda; genes, forming) Discovered
by Daniel Rutherford in 1772. At about the same time, Scheele, Cavendish,
Priestley, and others studied "burnt or dephlogisticated air," as air without
oxygen was then called.
SourcesNitrogen makes up 78% of the air, by volume. The atmosphere of
Mars, by comparison, is 2.6% nitrogen. From an inexhaustible source in our
atmospher, it can be obtained by liquifaction and fractional distillation.
Nitrogen molecules give the orange-red, blue-green, blue-violet, and deep
violet shades to the aurora.
CompoundsThe element is so inert that Lavoisier named it azote, meaning
without life. Yes, its active compounds are found in foods, poisons,
fertilizers, and explosives. Nitrogen can also be easily prepared by heating a
water solution of ammonium nitrite.
Nitrogen, as a gas, is colorless, odorless, and a generally inert element. As
a liquid it is also colorless and odorless, and is similar in appearance to
water. Two allotropic forms of solid nitrogen exist, with the transition from
the alpha to the beta form taking place at -237C.
UsesWhen nitrogen is heated, it combines directly with magnesium,
lithium, or calcium; when mixed with oxygen and subjected to electric sparks, it
forms first nitric acid (NO) and then the dioxide (NO2); when heated under
pressure with a catalyst with hydrogen, ammonia is formed (Haber process). The
ammonia is used in fertilizers and can be oxidized to nitric acid (Ostwald
process). The ammonia industry is the largest consumer of nitrogen.
Large amounts of gas are also used by the electronics industry as a
blanketing medium when producing transistors, diodes, etc. Large quantities of
nitrogen are used in annealing stainless steel and other steel mill products.
The drug industry also uses large quantities.
Nitrogen is used as a refrigerant both for the immersion freezing of food
products and for transportation of foods. Liquid nitrogen is also used in
missile work as a purge for components, insulators for space chambers. The oil
industry uses nitrogen to increase the pressure in wells to force crude oil
CompoundsSodium and potassium nitrates are formed by the decomposition
of organic matter with compounds of the metals present. In certain dry areas of
the world these saltpeters are found in quantity. Ammonia, nitric acid, the
nitrates, the five oxides, TNT, the cyanides, etc. are but a few of the
CostsNitrogen gas prices vary from 2 cents to $2.75 per 100
ft3 depending on purity, etc. Production of elemental nitrogen in the
U.S. is more than 9 million short tons per year.