Earth science for schools by Moorland School


Nitrogen (N2) makes up 78% of the air and has a boiling point of -196C. It is colorless, odourless, and tasteless. Nitrogen is often used as an "inert" gas due to its nonreactive nature.  Gaseous nitrogen is used in the chemical and petroleum industries for storage tank blanketing. It is also used extensively by the electronics and metals industries for its inert properties. Liquid nitrogen is also used as a refrigerant and for freezing food. Nitrogen can react to form compounds under certain conditions: nitrogen.


Both nitrogen and hydrogen are needed to make ammonia. The reaction is said to be reversible which means that nitrogen and hydrogen react to give ammonia (1) and at the same time ammonia breaks down to give nitrogen and hydrogen (2):

1)    N2  +  3H2 ARROW.gif (72 bytes)  2NH3

2)    2NH3 ARROW.gif (72 bytes)  N2  +  3H2

This can be summarised as:   N2  +   3H2  REVERSIBLE ARROW.gif (79 bytes)  2NH3

The nitrogen comes from the air and the hydrogen is produced by reacting methane with steam:- CH4  + H2ARROW.gif (72 bytes)  CO  +  3H2

Ammonia is made using:

  • High pressure (200 atmospheres)
  • A temperature of 450c
  • An iron catalyst

Ammonia is a key industrial chemical, it's used to make nitric acid which is used to make fertilizers and explosives.

oxygen Oxygen (O2) makes up 21% of the air and has a boiling point of -183C. Oxygen can be stored and shipped as either a gas or a cryogenic liquid. It has strong oxidizing and life-sustaining properties. It is used in medicine and in the steelmaking and metal-cutting industries. Oxygen is also used in the pulp and paper industries.
argon Argon (Ar) is a monatomic, chemically inert gas composing slightly less than 1% of the air, its boiling point is -186C. Argon is colorless, odourless, tasteless, non-corrosive, non-flammable, and non-toxic. Argon is used as an inert gas in applications such as arc welding, steelmaking, heat treating, and electronics manufacturing. It is also used to make light bulbs.


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