The p-Block Elements

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide (N2O), also known as laughing gas or nitrous is commonly in use as an anaesthetic and is therefore interesting for a different type of medical applications. It is also commonly known as laughing gas and is a chemical compound.

Nitrous Oxide       

                                                                                            Nitrous Oxide

Introduction to Nitrous Oxide

The chemical formula of an oxide of nitrogen is \(N_2O\). At room temperature, nitrous oxide is a colourless non-flammable gas, with a slight metallic scent and taste. At uplifted temperatures, nitrous oxide is a powerful oxidiser similar to molecular oxygen. Nitrous oxide is easily soluble in water.

Nitrous oxide has remarkable medical uses. It is especially in use in surgery and dentistry, for its anaesthetic and pain-reducing effects. The colloquial name of nitrous oxide i.e., “laughing gas”, is given by Humphry Davy. The name given is due to the euphoric effects upon inhaling it.

A property of nitrous oxide that has led to its recreational use as a dissociative anaesthetic. Nitrous oxide has its presence in the World Health Organisation’s List of Essential Medicines. Nitrous oxide is the safest and most effective medicines needed in a health system. It is also in use as an oxidiser in rocket propellants, and in motor racing to increase the power output of engines.

Nitrous oxide occurs in a very small amount in the atmosphere. Nitrous oxide has been a major scavenger of stratospheric ozone in the atmosphere. It has an impact that is comparable to that of CFCs. It estimates that 30% of the Nitrous oxide in the atmosphere is the result of human activity, chiefly agriculture and industry. Nitrous oxide is the third most long-lived greenhouse gas. Nitrous oxide substantially contributes to global warming.

Preparation of Nitrous Oxide (N2O)

  • Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a long-lived important greenhouse gas.
  • Nitrous oxide is always drawn up from the nitrate of ammonia.
  • It is made by adding pounded carbonate of ammonia to pure nitric acid and concentrated may be previously diluted with half its bulk of water so long. As it’s effervescence and a small excess of the carbonate may be left at the end in the liquor.
  • The solution is concentrated on when its boiling point begins to rise above 250oC. Thus, a drop of it becomes solid on a cool glass plate.
  • To get nitrous oxide a quantity of this salt is introduced into a retort and heated by a charcoal choffer. This is the diffused heat of which is more suitable than the heat of the lamp.
  • At a temperature not under \(340^oC\), the salt boils and begins to undergo decomposition that resolves into nitrous oxide and water.
  • Nitrous oxide should be collected in a gasometer or in a gas holder filled with water of temperature about 90^o as cold water absorbs much of this gas.
  • The whole salt that we get undergoes the same decomposition and nothing whatever is left in the retort.
  • Nitrous oxide is likewise drawn up when the salt called nitrogen sulphate of ammonia is thrown into acid. Also, when it is dissolved in dilute nitric acid but later processes do not afford the gas in the state of purity.

Reaction: \(NH_4NO_3 \rightarrow N_2O + 2H_2O\)

Properties of Nitrous Oxide

The chemical formula of nitrous oxide is \(N_2O\). The Molecular Weight/ Molar Mass of nitrous oxide is 44.013 g/mol. The density of nitrous oxide is \(1.98kg/m^3\). The boiling point of nitrous oxide is \(-88.48^oC\). The melting point of nitrous oxide is \(-90.86^oC\). Nitrous oxide supports combustion by releasing the dipolar bonded oxygen radical. It can thus relight a glowing splint.

\(N_2O\) is inert at room temperature. At rising temperatures, its reactivity increases. For example, nitrous oxide reacts with \(NaNH_2 at 460 K (187^oC)\) to give \(NaN_3\).

\(2NaNH_2 + N_2O\rightarrow NaN_3 + NaOH + NH_3\)

The above reaction is the route by the commercial chemical industry to produce azide salts. It’s useful as detonators.

Uses of Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide is in use in rocket motor as an oxidizer, as a food additive as an aerosol spray propellant, as a flavouring ingredient. It is useful in the manufacturing of semiconductors, Internal combustion engine. It has remarkable usage in the medical field as an analgesic and anaesthetic, in surgery, in dentistry. Nitrous oxide is also useful in car racing as a fuel additive, manufacture chemicals and more.

Environmental Impact due to Nitrous Oxide

Greenhouse Effect

Nitrous oxide has significant global warming potential being a greenhouse gas. On a per-molecule basis, It is over a 100-year period, nitrous oxide has 298 times the atmospheric heat-trapping ability of carbon dioxide. However, because of the low concentration i.e., less than 1/1,000 of that of \(CO_2\), its contribution to the greenhouse effect is less.

The contribution to the greenhouse effect is less than one third that of carbon dioxide. It is also less than water vapour and methane. On the other hand, since 38% or more of the Nitrous oxide entering the atmosphere, it is the result of human activity. Its concentration increases by to15% since 1750. Control of nitrous oxide is considered part of efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

A 2008 study by Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen states that the amount of nitrous oxide release attributable to agricultural nitrate fertilisers has been seriously underestimated. Most of the nitrous oxide presumably, would come under the soil and oceanic release in the Environmental Protection Agency data.

Nitrous oxide releases into the atmosphere through agriculture, when farmers add nitrogen-based fertilizers onto the fields. It is through the breakdown of animal manure. Approximately 79 per cent of all nitrous oxide releases in the United States come from nitrogen fertilization. Nitrous oxide is also releasing as a by-product of burning fossil fuel. Though the amount of release depends on which fuel is in use. It also emits through the manufacture of Nitric acid, which is in use in the synthesis of nitrogen fertilizers. The manufacturing of adipic acid, a precursor to nylon and other synthetic clothing fibres, also releases nitrous oxide.

Ozone Layer Depletion

Nitrous oxide has also been implicated in the depletion of the ozone layer. A 2009 study shows that \(N_2O\) emission is the single most important ozone-depleting emission. It is expected to remain the largest throughout the 21st century.

FAQs on Nitrous Oxide

Question 1: What elements makeup nitrous oxide?

Answer: Oxide with nitrous, Nitrous oxide, also known as dinitrogen monoxide, laughing gas or nitrous. It is one of several nitrogen oxides, a colourless gas with a fun, sweet smell and taste. When we inhale Nitrous oxide, it induces insensitivity to pain accompanied by mild hysteria, often laughter.

Question 2: How is nitrous oxide contributes to everyday life?

Answer: Colourless gas of Nitrous oxide, its usage in medical or dental surgery as an anaesthetic or analgesic. It is known as ‘laughing gas’. This is because it gives rise to the excitement. It also contributes to the production of foods under pressure. It also contributes to the processing of foods under strain.

Question 3: What type of bond is nitrous oxide?

Answer: All gases are nitrogen and oxygen. Therefore, the most common type of bonding is a covalent bond. Electrons switches in a covalent bond between two molecules. As if an ionic bond is when one molecule picks up an electron from the other, closer to the other molecule.

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