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Top 5 Interesting Things You Should Know About Nitrogen

Nitrogen is a chemical element first discovered and separated from air in 1772 by Daniel Rutherford, a Scottish physician. It has an atomic number of 7 (which means each nitrogen atom has 7 protons) and is represented by the letter N in the periodic table of elements. The name of this substance, however, is credited to Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, a French chemist, who called it azote (meaning ‘without life’).


You can find this non-metallic element in many forms as you go about your everyday life, and you can also hugely benefit from it. So, what should you know about nitrogen to ensure you can take full advantage of its properties?

1. Nitrogen is in Everyday Objects

It’s also fair to say that nitrogen is in everything, as it’s essential to life on Earth. After all, your body in weight is around 3% nitrogen; also, you breathe oxygen but the air is mostly made up of nitrogen – this element is present in 78.1% of the volume of the planet’s air. In excessive quantities, however, it is harmful to life and the environment.

It is also used for everyday items. Some of the most common uses include air conditioning, food and wine preservation, motorsports, fertilisers, and Kevlar. We offer a wide range of nitrogen cylinders at Adams Gas with different sizes (2L, 9L, 20L and 50L), ideal for many different applications.

2. Nitrogen Has Many Exciting Properties

This element is inert, as it’s colourless, odourless and non-flammable, and its atomic weight is 14.0067. At room temperature, nitrogen is in its gas form. This component is considered to be the 5th or 7th most abundant element in the Solar System and Milky Way – although it’s common on Earth, the same is not true for other planets; the Martian atmosphere, for example, only contains about 2.6% of nitrogen. Interestingly, Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, has more than 985 of nitrogen in its atmosphere!

Even though this element is inert, soil bacteria can still transform it in such a way that both fauna and flora is capable of using it to produce amino acids and proteins. You can prepare nitrogen gas by liquefaction and by fractional distillation from the atmosphere, with liquid nitrogen boiling at -195.8oC and freezing at -210.01oC.

3. Nitrogen is Responsible for the Colours of the Aurora

While this fact might not be as useful and practical as knowing nitrogen’s chemical properties, it is still one of the most interesting facts about this element! Who knew such a simple component was capable of creating such beautiful colours in the auroras of both north and south poles? Nitrogen is responsible for the orange-red, blue-green, blue-violet and many other shades, producing some of the world’s most stunning sights – ones that are sought-after by many who travel just with the purpose of seeing lights.

4. Nitrogen Can Release a Lot of Energy

Nitrogen is inert in its natural state but, once isolated or harnessed, it can release a large amount of energy. This is why other uses for nitrogen include explosives. Such energy can also be used to accelerate growth, which is why the element is also used in fertilisers.

A famous incident with nitrogen occurred in 1947 in the US, when a French cargo ship anchored off Texas City caught fire. The ship had 2380 tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertiliser on board, which exploded and sent the 7200-ton ship 200ft in the air.

5. Nitrogen Can Be Used as an Anaesthetic…

…although not in its natural state! Nitrous oxide (N2O), which is also known as laughing gas, is used in hospitals and dental clinic to remove or reduce pain in surgeries. This gas is also used in motor racing, since it increases the power of an engine – it goes by more the more common designation of NOS or Nitrous when used for this. However, nitrous oxide is an air pollutant, as it has almost 300 times more impact than carbon dioxide.

Nitrogen has many different applications, and we want you to be able to fully benefit from them. Knowing what nitrogen actually is and how it behaves can help you to use it appropriately, so we hoped you enjoyed these facts!


You can also read interesting facts about propane and helium.