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Ammonia is a molecule consisting of one nitrogen atom and three hydrogen atoms, NH3.

The nitrogen can easily gain a proton. Therefore ammonia is a base.

The formula for ammonia is NH.

If a molecule contains NH. That group is called an amino group because it looks like ammonia. An amino acid is an example of this.

Ammonia has a strong smell, and is the starting material for the production of many important nitrogen compounds. Ammonia was first isolated by Joseph Priestley in 1774, and its exact chemical formula was found by Claude-Louis Berthollet in 1785.

Ammonia dissolves easily in water, because the hydrogens and the nitrogen can form hydrogen bonds with water. In water the electrons around the nitrogen atom can easily capture a proton, forming an alkaline solution called ammonium hydroxide which is highly reactive and easily combines with many other chemicals.

Ammonia can be turned from a gas into a liquid by compression or by cooling to about -33 C (-27.4 F). In returning to the gaseous state, it absorbs substantial amounts of heat from its surroundings. Because of this it is often used as a coolant in refrigerating and air-conditioning equipment.

The chief commercial method of making ammonia is the Haber-Bosch process, which involves making ammonia directly from its hydrogen and nitrogen. Ammonia is also obtained as a by-product of coke ovens.

The major use of ammonia is as a fertilizer. It is either applied directly to the soil as liquefied gas or as ammonium nitrate, ammonium phosphate, and other salts. It is also used:

    to manufacture synthetic fibers such as nylon and rayon

    in the dyeing and scouring of cotton, wool, and silk

    as a catalyst in the production of Bakelite and other synthetic resins

    to neutralize acidic by-products of petroleum refining

    in the rubber industry it prevents the coagulation of raw latex during transportation

    the ammonia-soda, or Solvay, process, is widely used for producing soda ash

    the Ostwald process is a method for converting ammonia into nitric acid

    in various metallurgical processes, including the nitriding of alloy sheets to harden their surfaces

    to provide atomic hydrogen for welding

    as a household cleansing agent

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History of the Universe eBook. 398 pages, 300 illustrations only £5.99

eBook only £5.99
398 pages, 300 images

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