Sat November 26, 2011 By: Ayush Singh

Explain the chemical properties of nitrogen; ammonia and nitric acid.

Expert Reply
Sat November 26, 2011

Nitrogen : It is not a very active element. It combines with relatively few other elements at room temperature. Yet, the compounds of nitrogen are enormously important both in living organisms and in industrial applications. 

N2 becomes significantly more reactive as the temperature increases. At high temperatures, nitrogen reacts with hydrogen to form ammonia and with oxygen to form nitrogen oxide.



3 H2(g)


2 NH3(g)





2 NO(g)

Second, a number of catalysts found in nature overcome the inertness of N2 at low temperature.


Nitrogen makes up more than three-quarters of the Earth's atmosphere. It is also found in a number of rocks and minerals in the Earth's surface.

As the covalent radius of a nitrogen atom is relatively small (only 0.070 nm), nitrogen atoms come close enough together to form very strong bonds.

Ammonia: Ammonia is extremely soluble in water and is frequently used as a water solution called aqua ammonia. Ammonia chemically combines with water to form ammonium hydroxide. Ammonia, especially in the presence of moisture, reacts with and corrodes copper, zinc, and many alloys. Only iron, steel, certain rubbers and plastics, and specific nonferrous alloys resistant to ammonia should be used for fabrications of anhydrous ammonia containers, fittings, and piping.

Nitric Acid: Nitric Acid is a colourless, highly corrosive, poisonous liquid.

Many compounds are oxidized by nitric acid. Nonmetallic elements such as carbon, iodine, phosphorus and sulfur are oxidized by concentrated nitric acid to their oxides or oxyacids with the formation of NO

One part HNO3 and three parts of HCl when mixed together, the mixture so obtained is called Aqua Regia. Noble metals such as gold,platinum are not dissolved either of the acid alone but in Aqua Regia they easily dissolve due to liberation of atomic Cl which is highly reactive.

Ask the Expert