Simple Science

Uses Of Nitrogen

NitrogenPhoto by sylvia@intrigue

Nitrogen has many uses, besides making almost 80% of the Earth’s atmosphere. Since nitrogen is an inert gas, it can be used to reduce or eliminate oxidation of materials and replace air.

However, its most important use is in creating ammonia, which is used to make explosives, fertilizer as well as other materials. Additionally, liquid nitrogen is used for very low temperatures as a refrigerant. As we already said, nitrogen is important to life on Earth. It can be found in all living systems and is a component of all proteins.

Its compounds are present in organic materials, explosives, foods and poisons. This element is crucial to life. However, in excess nitrogen can be harmful to the environment. Nitrogen is the 5th most abundant element in the universe and was named after the Greek word nitron (native soda), and genes (forming). Nitrogen makes 78% of planet’s air. On the other hand, the atmosphere of Mars is just 2.5% of nitrogen. In its liquid form, nitrogen is odorless and colorless, and looks similar to water. In its gas form, nitrogen is also odorless and colorless but generally considered as inert. In this article we will discuss all the great uses of this element.

Common uses

Nitrogen can be found in virtually all pharmacological drugs. It is used as an anesthetic in the form of nitrous oxide. Cryopreservation also uses the gas in order to conserve blood, sperm, egg as well as other biological specimens. The CPUs in laptops and computers use nitrogen to keep them from heating up. Nitrogen is also important for X-ray detectors.

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Furthermore, nitrogen tanks are used as paintball gun power sources, because they are much more effective in this regard compared to carbon dioxide. Nitrogen can be also used to fill aircraft as well as some vehicle tires. This non-metallic chemical element can be found in military aircraft fuel systems in order to combat fire hazards. The same element is also used in high voltage equipment and steel production. In addition, nitrogen is also present in liquid explosives so they don’t explode.

Living beings and nitrogen

As we already said, nitrogen is present in all living organisms; animals, plants and humans. Nitrogen is the primary figure in amino acids, which are proteins’ building blocks. The element is also the basis for DNA, RNA and neurotransmitters. It is also part of chlorophyll pigment and is required in plants. It allows plants to convert sunlight into energy. Nitrogen can also be found in grains, leaves and roots. However, plants don’t take in atmospheric nitrogen. Nitrogen is changed into compounds which plants can soak in. The name of this transformation process is nitrogen cycle.

Uses in industries

Nitrogen is used in controlling pollution. This non-metallic chemical element is great for getting rid of unstable organic compounds in liquids. A number of industries use nitrogen to destroy toxic liquids as well as vapors in industrial tools. The element is vital in the industrial sector as nitrogen dioxide. Nitrogen also serves as an oxidation reaction catalyst. In addition, it can also be used as a rocket fuel and flour bleaching agent.

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