Periodic Table -> Oxygen


Oxygen Details

Oxygen Symbol: O

Oxygen Atomic Number: 8

Oxygen Atomic Weight: 15.9994

What is Oxygen?

Oxygen (atomic number 8, symbol O) is among the most abundant elements and 9 known isotopes. Air is made of 21% oxygen and 78% nitrogen. Silicon-oxygen minerals make most of the Earth’s crust. Oxygen has cubic lattice structure and is paramagnetic in solid and liquid state. It is an odorless gas with a light blue color, which is soluble in water.

Oxygen is a gas and a non-metal. Non-metals are found in two states at room temperature – solids such as selenium and phosphorus and gases (e.g. nitrogen and oxygen). The element has 2 allotropes – ozone and diatomic form. Ozone has 3 atoms while the diatomic form has 2 unpaired electrons. Oxygen has 3 oxidation states: +2, -2, and -1 and is present in calcium oxide and other solid oxides.

Oxygen has many commercial and scientific applications. It is used to remove carbon and sulfur from iron ore. In the chemical industry, it is used to create a large variety of products, including some types of polymers and antifreeze. The main applications of oxygen are in the manufacturing of chemicals and glass and stone products. Oxygen is also used for rocket propulsion and life support. Submariners and scuba divers rely on a mixture of air and oxygen while pure oxygen is commonly used for emergency treatment.

Given that oxygen is a highly reactive element, most chemicals form compounds with it. Inert gases are the only exception. It is found in many organic compounds, in minerals and rocks, and in water. It combines with metals and non-metals and forms oxides. Oxides include those of phosphorus, aluminum, and sulfur. It also forms salt-like compounds and basic compounds such as aluminates and silicates. These compounds are solid and are not used to separate oxygen because it is very expensive. The methods of production depend on the quantity that has to be produced. Thermal decomposition is one method. Decomposition of potassium nitrate or potassium chlorate is another way to produce oxygen. Catalysts such as manganese dioxide are also used in the decomposition of potassium chlorate. Electrolysis of water and decomposition of hydrogen peroxide and oxides of heavy metals are other methods.

Common oxygen compounds include silica, water, and different iron oxides. Other compounds include bauxite or aluminum oxide, gypsum or calcium sulphate, and marble or calcium carbonate. Different types of organic compounds, including ketones, ethers, and alcohols, contain oxygen. Ketones are synthesized by ozonolysis, hydration of alkynes, hydrolysis of salts, and geminal halide hydrolysis. They have different industrial applications and are used as pharmaceuticals and solvents. Ethers also contain oxygen and are synthesized through synthesis, dehydration, Ullmann condensation, and other methods. Dimethyl ether is an aerosol spray propellant while diethyl ether is used as a starting fluid, anesthetic, and boiling solvent. Other compounds that contain oxygen include amides, acid anhydrides, and carboxylic acids. In addition, a number of organic solvents, including furan, formic acid, and methanol contain oxygen.

Most biomolecules contain oxygen, except for carotenes and squalene. All protein molecules contain oxygen, but carbohydrates have the largest percentage by mass. The element is also present in the bones in the form of hydroxylapatite and calcium phosphate. It occurs in the pyrimidines (heterocyclic compounds) of DNA and RNA as well.

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