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Nitrogen, facts about nitrogen

Nitrogen is a colorless, tasteless gas. It is the chemical element, symbol N. It is found in the air, and the Earth's atmosphere is nearly four-fifths nitrogen. Chemically, nitrogen is inert - that is, it does not readily take part in chemical reactions. For instance, it does not burn, nor will it support combustion.

liquid nitrogen facts Nitrogen, facts about nitrogen

Nitrogen, facts about nitrogen

A simplified rectification column for separating liquid oxygen and liquid nitrogen. When liquid air comes into contact with cool gaseous air, nitrogen gas tends to boil off, while oxygen collects in the liquid. Almost pure nitrogen gas can be taken from the top of the column, while liquid oxygen can be removed from the base

Nitrogen encourages rapid plant growth. It is taken in through the roots mainly as nitrate dissolved in the soil water. The plant on the picture has been starved of nitrogen

Nitrogen is essential to life in plants and animals. It is found in protoplasm (the material in cells) and in proteins, which consist mainly of nitrogen-containing compounds called amino-acids. Plants get their nitrogen from compounds, in the soil. These, in turn, get their nitrogen from the air or from fertilizers and decaying matter. Animals get their nitrogen by eating plants or by eating other animals. The way in which nitrogen passes from the soil to plants and animals and then back to the soil again is an important part of the balance of nature called the nitrogen cycle.

Animals also breathe in nitrogen. But it is not absorbed by the lungs and is breathed out again. Nitrogen is extracted from air for industrial use by cooling the air until it liquefies. The liquid air so formed is separated into its components, oxygen and liquid nitrogen, in fact. Nitrogen also occurs in mineral deposits of nitrates in South America and Europe. It is used for making ammonia, fertilizers, explosives and plastics. Other nitrogen compounds are used as drugs.

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