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Information on the element oxygen

Information on the element: oxygen atom

Oxygen is the most important of all gases to living things. Animals and plants alike need to breathe the oxygen in the air in order to remain alive. Mammals take in oxygen through the lungs. From there, the blood carries it to all parts of the body. The body 'burns' its food in this oxygen to provide energy and heat.

Carbon dioxide is produced by this 'burning' and is carried by the blood to the lungs, where it is breathed out. This process is called respiration. Plants, too, respire through their leaves, but during the day, they also take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen by photosynthesis. In this way, the amount of oxygen in the air is kept constant.

 Oxygen is by far the most abundant chemical element on Earth. It makes up one-fifth of the air around us. Most of the remainder is nitrogen.

Information on the element: oxygen atom

Combined with other elements it makes up half of the Earth's crust, and combined with hydrogen almost nine-tenths of the oceans. When oxygen combines with other elements, the process is called oxidation. Combustion, or burning, is fast oxidation, and rusting is slow oxidation.

Oxygen is obtained commercially by distilling liquid air. Liquid oxygen itself, which is very, very cold (-183° C), is used as a propellent for rockets. In gaseous form it is used widely in industry in gas torches (oxyacetylene and oxyhydrogen) for cutting and welding metals. In medicine, oxygen is given to patients who have difficulty in breathing. Aircraft and submarines must carry supplies of oxygen for breathing, too. More information on the element oxygen you can read here.

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