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Uses of Ammonia

8/8/2012 2:11:17 PM | by Anonymous

Ammonia

Also known as azane, ammonia is a chemical compound with one nitrogen and three hydrogen atoms that are tightly bonded together; giving it the formula NH3. At room temperature, ammonia exists in a gaseous state with a colourless form and a pungent smell. It boils at -33.34°C and ammonia used for household uses is usually a mixture of ammonia and water. Ammonia provides the right conditions and nutrition that are needed for the growth of terrestrial organisms. Even in commercial products such as pharmaceuticals, ammonia is directly or indirectly a building block. Ammonia that is used for commercial applications is called anhydrous ammonia. Since it has a very low boiling point, the chemical should be kept at very low temperatures and pressure to sustain its liquid form for commercial use.

 

Some products that contain this alkaline substance can be cleaning products or fertilizers, as ammonia is known to provide the right conditions for plants to grow. Although the chemical has several commercial uses, it is very hazardous, even in low concentrations and therefore it is important to handle the chemical properly. Inhaling or getting the solution on skin can have several effects such as burning, fainting and even death. Even low concentrations can cause damage to the human body when over exposed.

 

Production

The natural occurrence of ammonia happens when plants, animals or organic matter decompose, releasing ammonia into the air. Not only that, but ammonia salts can also be found in rainwater along with ammonium sulfate being found in areas that have volcanoes. Ammonia can then be extracted. However, as the commercial or industrial uses for ammonia are vast, it is usually produced through artificial methods; by using force to bond the nitrogen and hydrogen atoms together. The gas is then usually pressurized to its liquid form so that it can be distributed more easily. The many uses makes ammonia one of the most highly produced inorganic gas. China, India and Russia are amongst the largest producers of this gas.

 

Advantages

Despite having some bad effects when highly concentrated, its properties can also create some advantages of using this chemical. Since it is lighter than air, the gas would not flood indoors in case of a leak but float up. Also its distinctive pungent smell could act as an indicator and prevent people from touching its liquid form. The chemical is also not easily combustible unless in high concentrations. It’s these properties that allow it to be used in the manufacturing of household products.

 

Uses

As mentioned earlier, ammonia is mixed with water to sustain the liquid form of the chemical. It is easily incorporated in water, which allows it to be used in household products such as window sprays, cleaning foams, wax removers or toilet bowl cleansers. These substances usually contain between 5 to 10 percent of ammonia and the rest are chemicals or water. This helps to reduce the concentration of the substance and reduce its hostility. Some cleansers or fertilizers would require the user to mix the ammonia liquid with water separately. Therefore, a user should be extremely careful when doing so to ensure his or her safety. Also ammonia should not be mixed with other chemicals unless stated in the instructions, as some chemicals, for example bleach when mixed with ammonia can form a very dangerous gas that if inhaled can pose as a death threat.

 

Cleansers such as toilet bowl cleansers generally tend to have a stronger concentration as compared to products such as wax removers or window sprays, as they would require a stronger formula to get rid of stubborn germs and stains. These higher concentrations means that these substances are more corrosive and therefore extra care should be taken when using these products. These products should be kept out of the reach of children to prevent any mishap from happening. Ammonia can also be used to refrigerate rooms or house other materials that require low temperatures to sustain. Plastic manufacturers along with pesticide and dyes manufacturers also use ammonia in their manufacturing process.

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