Nitrogen element is a natural gas available in the air.
It is the most abundant gases in the air with a concentration of 78.09%.
It forms 78% of earth’s atmosphere making it largest available element on the earth.
Chemically it is a combination of two atoms of nitrogen.
But atmospheric nitrogen exists in different forms like ammonia, organic compounds etc..
It is available in almost all the livings beings starting from bacteria to man.
It is less expensive and also a safe gas due to which it is widely used for industrial purposes.
Nitrogen is used in the form of gas and also liquid.
Besides there are various compounds of nitrogen which are used by man for daily needs.
Uses of nitrogen gas:
- In health care for respiratory assistance. In patients who have respiratory insufficiency due to disorders like COPD & emphysema nitrogen gas is needed. These people due to decline in lung capacity cannot breathe sufficient oxygen from air. So they are given oxygen therapy. Here oxygen gas is given in combination with nitrogen. 100% oxygen is toxic to breathe by us. So oxygen is combined with nitrogen at a certain ratio and given to breathe by tubes directly inserted to nose. Here nitrogen is preferred because in the air which we breathe also there is nitrogen concentration of 70% while oxygen is 21 %. So in treatment it is safe to combine oxygen with nitrogen. But only difference to air is oxygen concentration is higher.
2. In gas chromatography: In chromatography it is used as as carrier gas or mobile phase gas. This is specifically preferred due to properties like non reactivity, neutrality and commercially cheaper to other gases used in gas chromatography.
3. To dry excess solvent. This is practiced especially in research. When a substance is broken down in an organic solvent, after the process, excess solvent is removed by passing a stream of pure nitrogen gas. Evaporation can also be done to remove excess solvent by heating. But when the substance or sample is heat sensitive or gets damaged due to heat, then it needs non heat method of drying. Hence when nitrogen is passed through, it carries away organic solvent gradually. Thus the solution gets concentrated.
4. Inflation of tires: Now a days use of nitrogen gas over normal air is quite common. There are claims that filling nitrogen alone instead of air help in smooth drive and also one need not check for inflation status for few months.
5. Liquid nitrogen uses.
Nitrogen in nature is in gaseous form. But when cooled, it converts to liquid at -210 degrees temperature. It is represented as Liquid LIN or LN2.
So this liquid nitrogen is very chill and can be used to preserve and also transport biological samples with damage. But interestingly this liquid nitrogen is very harsh to hold. It is cryogenic and when put on hand, it can freeze the tissue immediately. Hence there are special containers to hold it and dispense it. One should not use their hands to hold it.
Other forms: Nitrogen forms many compounds in nature. Some are also synthesized by man for different uses. These compounds include
- Ammonium (NH4): Ammonium is a compound of nitrogen. It is formed naturally in nature and also made by man. It is used as a fertilizer in agriculture in the form of ammonium sulfate, ammonium nitrate and even urea. This ammonium is used to generate amino acids which help in formation of proteins. Besides, ammonia is used as refrigerant in refrigerator and other cooling systems to provide cooling effect.
- Nitric oxide (NO): Nitric oxide is a natural molecule released in the body. It is a type of chemical messenger which dilate blood vessels and other tissues. In medicine we use glyceryl trinitrate in the form if sub-lingual tablet to release NO. This Nitric oxide immediately dilates tiny blood vessels of heart and saves the person from fatal heart arrest.
- Nitrous oxide (N2O): This is called as laughing gas. It has mild anesthetic effects. So it is used in minor surgeries like in dentistry.
- Nitric acid (HNO3): This is strong acid used in inorganic chemistry. It is used to estimate the concentration of bases by acidimetry.
- Amino acids: These are the building blocks of proteins. They are formed in the body by the process of RNA translation. These amino-acids so produced are grouped to form proteins. These proteins form the solid structure of plants and animals. Hence those who are found to have lean body are advised to consume enough protein. This is because, these proteins break down to amino-acids in the digestive tract. These amino-acids absorbed from the intestine are again utilized by the body to form proteins.
- Nuclei acids: Nucleic acids are the genetic structures in the body. They decide the shape and characters of an individual or plant. These nucleic acids have many chemical components. And one special type is called as nitrogenous bases. These nitrogenous bases are five namely Adenine, guanine, thymine, cytosine and uracil. These nitrogen bases have nitrogen in them. When broken, they release urea and uric acid. Due to this element, hydrogen bonds are formed to give stability.
- Besides it also combines with carbon to form organic compounds like pyridine, pyrimidine ect.