Ammonia is a chemical compound with the formula NH3 and is made up of nitrogen and hydrogen. It is a colourless gas and it has a characteristic pungent smell. Ammonia is a common form of nitrogenous waste that is created by many aquatic organisms.
Ammonia is a very useful compound in the day to day lives of human beings. It serves as a precursor to food and fertilizers and is an integral part of the synthesis of many pharmaceutical products. Apart from this, a mixture of ammonia solution and ammonium chloride solution can be used to form an alkaline buffer solution, that is, a solution which has the ability to resist a change in pH upon its dilution. Some more properties and uses of ammonia are discussed in this article. It is interesting to note that ammonia is named after the worshipers of Amun, an Egyptian God. And they supposedly used ammonium chloride in many of their religious rituals.
Despite being common in nature and having a wide range of uses in the daily lives of humans, ammonia, in its concentrated form, has both caustic and hazardous natures. It has even been classified as an extremely hazardous substance by the United States of America.
The boiling point of ammonia is -33.40C at a pressure of 1 atm. Therefore, the storage of liquid ammonia must be done in conditions where the pressure is high and the temperature is low. The alternate IUPAC names for ammonia include trihydridonitrogen and nitrogen trihydride. The formation of ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen can be considered a redox reaction since there is a change in the oxidation states of the nitrogen and the hydrogen atoms.
There exists a mechanism in the human body to prevent the build-up of ammonia in the human bloodstream. Therefore, the toxic nature of the solutions of ammonia generally doesn’t tend to cause problems to humans. With the help of the enzyme known as carbamoyl phosphate synthetase, ammonia is converted into carbamoyl phosphate in the human body. This carbamoyl phosphate then enters the urea cycle and is either excreted from the human body or incorporated into amino acids.
Anhydrous ammonia has a boiling point that lies below the room temperature (at atmospheric levels of pressure), which makes it similar to propane (an organic compound having the formula C3H8). One of the suitable vessels that can be used to store this chemical compound is a storage vessel capable of 1.7 MPa.
It is important to note that ammonium compounds must be kept away from bases since their compounds can lead to chemical reactions which involve the release of a dangerous amount of ammonia gas.
Liquid ammonia also has the ability to dissolve alkali metals such as lithium, sodium, potassium, and rubidium. Other electropositive metals, such as calcium, barium, and magnesium can also be dissolved in ammonia in its liquid form.
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