Home Science 30 Nitrogen Facts Crucial For Your School Project

30 Nitrogen Facts Crucial For Your School Project

by Sankalan Baidya
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nitrogen facts

Just like Carbon, Nitrogen is another substance that is vital for life on planet Earth. Yes, no Nitrogen means no life. It is as simple as that. So, now you should have a faint idea of why Nitrogen is one of the most important elements in world. In this article on Nitrogen facts, we will learn a lot of things. May be you are already familiar with them so, consider this as a refresher course.

But before we start with our list of facts about Nitrogen, let us learn a few basic things about the element in a tabular format. You will definitely need this for your homework or project.

Element Name Nitrogen
Element Symbol N
Element Family Group 15
Color Colorless
State Gas
Atomic Weight 14.0067
Melting Point 63.05 Kelvin or -210.1°C
Boiling Point 77.4 Kelvin or -195.8°C
Density at 20°C 0.0012506 g/cm3
Number of Electrons 7
Number of Protons 7
Number of Neutrons (as found in most abundant isotope) 7
Electronic Configuration 1s2 2s2 2p3
Know Isotopes 12 Isotopes in total with 14N and 15N occurring naturally and are stable. [see the next table below]
Element Structure Hexagonal close-packed
Atomic Radius 65 pm
Hardness It is gaseous element and hence, hardness doesn’t count.

The Isotopes of Nitrogen are:

Isotopes Natural or Synthetic Half life
12N Synthetic A few milliseconds
13N Synthetic 10 minutes
14N Natural and stable
15N Natural and stable
16N Synthetic A few seconds
17N Synthetic A few seconds
18N Synthetic A few milliseconds
19N Synthetic A few milliseconds
20N Synthetic A few milliseconds
21N Synthetic A few milliseconds
22N Synthetic A few milliseconds
23N Synthetic A few milliseconds

Okay, now that we are done with the basic data on Nitrogen, it is time to start with the Nitrogen facts that you have been waiting for.

Nitrogen Facts: 1-5 | Discovery and Naming

1. Nitrogen discovery has a very interesting history. John Mayow – an English physician first first demonstrated that air is made up of different components. He proved this in 1674 by showing that only a part of the air is combustible. The remaining is not.

2. Close to a century later, Joseph Black – a chemist from Scotland managed to remove Carbon Dioxide and Oxygen from air but still saw that some air remains.

3. Then came Daniel Rutherford – a doctoral student of Joseph Black. He simply carried out Black’s work in further details. Through a series of experiments, he managed to remove the Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide from air completely. He noticed that the leftover gas was not only NOT capable of combustion but was also unable to support life. He didn’t know what he had discovered and called it as ‘Noxious Gas’. His work was then published and he is credited for the discovery of Nitrogen.

4. In 1790, Jean-Antoine-Claude Chaptal -a French Chemist – came up with the with the name ‘Nitrogen’ because by then, it was already known that Nitrogen was present in nitrates and nitric acid. The name ‘Nitrogen’ was derived from two Greek words – nitron and genes. Nitron literally means ‘Niter’ and Genes means ‘forming’.

5. Later came Antoine Lavoisier, who was also a French Chemist. He came up with a different name called ‘Azote’ a Greek word for the meaning ‘asphyxiation’. The name Azote is currently used in many languages like Turkish, Russia and French. Even in English, the name is used for many compounds of Nitrogen like azo compounds, azides, hydrazine etc.

Nitrogen Facts: 6-10 | Some Amazing Facts About Nitrogen

6. Scientists believe that Nitrogen is 7th most abundant element in this whole universe.

7. According to Los Alamos National Laboratory, 78% of the air on this planet is nothing but Nitrogen. In contrast, Mars’ atmosphere has only 2.6% Nitrogen.

8. In room temperature, Nitrogen remains as a gas. It is completely colorless and odorless. It is considered to be an inert gas.

9. On Titan – largest moon of Saturn, 95% of the atmosphere is made of Nitrogen.

10. NASA says that Nitrogen plays a very vital role in Aurora formation that is observed in Antarctic and Arctic regions. Auroras are made when high-speed electrons from outer space come and collide with Nitrogen and Oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere.

Nitrogen Facts: 11-15 | Some Amazing Facts About Nitrogen

11. Nitrogen is present in every single living organism. It is present in our DNA and even in our RNA.

12. Nitrogen is required by our body for building amino acids!

13. In fact, 3% of human body is made of Nitrogen. This makes it the fourth most abundant element in human body right after Oxygen, Carbon and Hydrogen.

14. There are various types of bacteria that are present on this Earth that are known for synthesizing Nitrogen and converting it into more usable form using a specific type of enzyme for more higher and complex life forms.

15. Did you know that plants are capable of synthesizing Nitrogen directly from soil? The Nitrogen is converted into proteins that can be digested directly from the leaves of those plants.

Nitrogen Facts: 16-20 | Some Amazing Facts About Nitrogen

16. Did you know that Nitrogen can be frozen solid? The frozen Nitrogen or solid Nitrogen looks like snow.

17. There is something called Nitrogen Fixation. This is actually a process in which elemental Nitrogen is changed into compounds of Nitrogen. For instance, one of many Nitrogen Fixation processes take place when a lightning strike makes Oxygen and Nitrogen in air to react.

18. We said that the plants convert/synthesize Nitrogen from soil. What really happens is that there are numerous bacteria present on the root hair of the plants. They are the ones that carry out Nitrogen Fixation. These bacteria use Nitrogen in soil and convert them into various compounds including Nitrates. The plants then use those Nitrates for making protein molecules.

19. The truth is that humans, animals and plants directly do not possess the ability of Nitrogen Fixing. All of them have to depend on soil bacteria. Without these bacteria, plants won’t exist and without the plants, animals and humans won’t exist.

20. Nitrogen is very essential for protecting goods from Oxygen. Sounds weird right? That’s true. Objects can oxidize in presence of Oxygen and hence, they need some protection. In case you didn’t know, the packets of potato chips that you buy are filled mostly with Nitrogen to protect the chips from Oxygen.

Nitrogen Facts: 21-25 | Some Amazing Facts About Nitrogen

21. Nitrogen is not present in air in form of element (represented as N). It is rather present in form of N2. N2 is nothing but Nitrogen Gas. Basically, Nitrogen bonds with itself and forms the gas.

22. Nitrogen gas itself is non-toxic and inert. However, if it is released in an enclosed room, it will gradually replace Oxygen and can lead to asphyxiation.

23. Did you know that the Declaration of Independence and even the original hand-written Constitution of India are actually preserved in air-tight containers filled with liquid Nitrogen?

24. According to Royal Society of Chemistry, liquid Nitrogen is an important refrigerant. In fertility clinics and medical research institutes, liquid Nitrogen is used for storing various types of cells including eggs and sperm.

25. The Royal Society of Chemistry says that ancient Egyptians produced Nitrogen in form of NH4Cl (Ammonium Chloride) by heating a mixture of salt, urine and animal excrement.

Nitrogen Facts: 26-30 | Some Amazing Facts About Nitrogen

26. Every year, Haber process is used for making around 150 tons of Nitrogen, says, Royal Society of Chemistry.

27. There is a compound of Nitrogen called the Nitrous Oxide. It is actually popular by the name ‘Laughing Gas’. When inhaled, it leads to euphoric effects and hence the name. This gas is used in dental clinics and hospitals as anesthetic.

28. In motor racing, Nitrous Oxide (N2O) is often used to boost engine speed. Ever played racing video games with Nitroboost option? Hell yes! It is true and that Nitroboost comes from the laughing gas.

29. Okay, Nitrous Oxide may have some important applications but did you know that it is actually an air pollutant and an important greenhouse gas? If measured by weight, it is 300 times more potent that Carbon Dioxide as a greenhouse gas.

30. There is something called Decompression Sickness. This is a condition when rapid reduction in pressure leads to Nitrogen gas bubble formation in bloodstream and various organs. The condition is more commonly known as ‘the bends’ and is widespread among scuba divers and even astronauts.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

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