What is nitrogen?
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has a high negative charge. Under normal conditions it is presented in a gaseous state and is called a diatomic or molecular gas. It has a grade 3 electronegativity and in the periodic table it is represented by the letter “N”.
This element is used by living beings to live since it occupies the highest percentage of air that animals and plants breathe.
In Latin, nitrogen comes from the words ” nitrum” (historically used to designate sodium compounds) and “genes” (which means to generate).
Although it was used in a very precarious way since the Middle Ages , Scheele was the first scientist who managed to isolate this element from the rest of the particles that were in the air.
Characteristics of nitrogen
Nitrogen is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that makes up 80% of the air we breathe. It is a non-metal in a gaseous state and is considered an inert element.
Nitrogen is composed of two types of isotopes: N14 and N15. In addition you can find other types of isotopes of radioactive origin such as N12, N13, N16 and N17, so in liquid or solid state it is necessary to handle it with special care.
- Atomic weight: 14,0067
- Atomic number: 7
- Symbol: N
- Melting point: -210º C
- Boiling point: -195.79º C
- Density: 1.25046 per liter.
In nature, nitrogen is in the gaseous state. However, man has been able to transform this state into liquid and solid.
Although its most notable uses are in the liquid state, it is important to note that the liquid state of the nitrogen must be used only for specific purposes and taking into account the appropriate precautions.
As its temperature is very low, it can damage the skin and generate cold burns.
This non-metal can be obtained through the implementation of various means. Among the most used are fractional distillation and liquefaction. However, it is found abundantly in its natural state in the air we breathe.
Presence of nitrogen
In addition to being present in the air we breathe, we find nitrogen in food, plants, fertilizers, poisonous substances and even in explosives.
Function of nitrogen in nature
Nitrogen makes an important contribution to the environment: without this element, life on earth would not be possible. Nitrogen helps the bacteria in a complex process where this element is deposited in the plants and then ingested by the animals.
In other words, without the presence of nitrogen, bacteria could not convert the soil into a fertile base for plants. For this reason it is considered that nitrogen intervenes in the life cycle of the ecosystem.
Among the functions of nitrogen, we find the following:
- As a preservative of packaged foods, as it stops its oxidation.
- The light bulbs have nitrogen, which is more accessible than when using argon.
- It is used in liquid explosives to prevent them from exploding.
- It is used for the manufacture of electronic parts such as transistors or integrated circuits.
- It is used in aircraft fuels since it helps to prevent the risk of fire.
- The nitrogen in liquid state helps in the conservation of blood, platelets, etc.
- It is present in almost all pharmacological drugs that are consumed (nitrous oxide is used as anesthesia).
- It is used to make stainless steel.
Effects of nitrogen in the body
Nitrogen in the natural state is found in the air; in the soil and in water, this substance is in a compound state: it is composed of nitrite and nitrates.
This compound nitrogen is not so beneficial for health, being some of its main effects the following:
- Decreases the transport of oxygen in the blood
- Lentifies the functioning of the thyroid gland
- Does not allow the correct fixation of vitamin A in the body
- It promotes the production of a substance called nitrosamine , responsible for the mutation of cells (cancer).
Curiosity: nitrogen in the colors of the sky
This element is responsible for the colors blue, green, violet, orange and red that appear in the sky. Not only in the rainbow but also in a sunset.