Defining The Importance of Carbon

Carbon is one of the most important elements of life. Without this, the existence of life could not have been made possible. You may have noticed, that carbon is the primary element in most compounds that are necessary to live. In the study of climate change, carbon is often and generally termed as carbon dioxide. It is the primary greenhouse gas that is emitted by humans. However, from the technical perspective, carbon becomes carbon dioxide only if an atom of it joins two oxygen atoms. This makes the chemical formula appropriate – CO2.

Table of Content

  • Characteristics of carbon

  • Importance of carbon

  • Chemical Properties

  • Applications of carbon

  • The physical and biological role of carbon

  • The chemical reactivity of carbon

  • A detailed analysis of carbon

  • Carbon and its Function

Characteristics of Carbon

  • Carbon makes 4 electrons to form a covalent bond

  • It has a number of allotropes and other forms of existence. These include diamond and graphite with distinctive properties

  • Carbon is highly unreactive under conditions which are normal

  • This chemical element is represented with the symbol C

  • It contains 6 protons in the nucleus and thus, have atomic number 6

  • Carbon is both nonmetallic and tetravalent

  • It is available in various shapes

  • The chemical element has the ability to bond with multiple elements

Importance of Carbon

Carbon is a compound that can be found in almost all living things. This is the reason it plays a vital role in the category of organic compounds. It makes up the life process by making up with other cells and structures of an organism. Carbon is a primary element when it comes to organic compounds. Therefore, carbon is essential for living.

Diamonds and graphite are examples of its purest form. Carbon can easily form a molecule by combining with other elements. The molecules which are carbon-based and they form the basic building blocks of humans, plants, animals, soils and trees. CO2 and methane is a form of greenhouse gas that consists of molecules which are carbon-based. These properties can also be found in fossil fuels. These molecules are made of hydrocarbons that consist of hydrogen and carbon.

Chemical Properties 

  • The atomic number is carbon is 6.

  • The atomic mass of carbon is 12.011 g.mol-1 The Electronegativity is 2.5.

  • The density of the carbon atom is 2.2 at 20°C.

  • The melting and boiling point of carbon is 3652 °C and 4827 °C respectively.

  • The Van der Waals radius is 0.091 nm.

  • The Ionic radius of carbon atom is 0.015 nm (+4); 0.26 nm (-4).

  • The Electronic shell of carbon atom is [ He ] 2s22p2

  • The energy of carbon atom's first, second and third ionisation is 1086.1 kJ.mol -1,2351.9 kJ.mol -1 and 4618.8 kJ.mol -1 respectively.

  • The carbon atom was discovered by Antoine Lavoisier.

Applications of Carbon

It is a free element that comes with lots of uses. These include decorating with pieces of diamond or black pigment in the rim of automobiles or ink of printer. Graphite is another form of carbon that has been used for crucibles of high-temperature, arc lamp electrodes, dry cell or for the pencil tips. There is another amorphous state of carbon, known as vegetal carbon which is used in the form of bleaching agent and gas absorbent.

The compounds of carbon have numerous uses. For carbonization of drinks, they use carbon dioxide and fire extinguisher. Dry Ice is the solid form of carbon. Carbon monoxide too is useful for the reduction in a number of metallurgic processes. When it comes to industrial solvents, carbon disulphide and carbon tetrachloride are one of the notable inclusions. 

The Physical and Biological Role of Carbon

On the basis of weight, carbon comes in number 19th in the order of elemental abundance. It has been estimated that there are at least 3.5 times carbon atoms as many as silicon atoms in the universe. Apart from carbon, only helium, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and neon are automatically abundant in the cosmos. Carbon is the cosmic product when helium is burnt. In this process, three helium nuclei with atomic weight 4, get fused to produce a carbon nucleus with atomic weight 12.

In the Earth's crust, elemental carbon is a minor complement. However, carbon compounds like carbonates of calcium, magnesium help in the formation of common minerals like dolomite, magnesite, limestone and marble. Moreover, shells of clams, oysters, and corals are actually calcium carbonate. Carbon is distributed to a great extent in the form of coal and organic compounds. They constitute natural gas, petroleum, and plant & animal tissue. Carbon is an important component in the process of photosynthesis. It is a natural sequence of chemical reactions that involve the conversion of the carbon cycle to form atmospheric carbon dioxide and carbohydrates.

The Chemical Reactivity of Carbon

The compounds of carbon form the basis of life on Earth, and the cycle of nitrogen carbon provides the energy that is produced by sun and stars. Carbon has a rapport of bonding with smaller atoms, including those which are carbon itself. This is made possible with the formation of stable and covalent bonds. Well, it's true that carbon is present in almost every compound, but the chemical reactive properties are very weak when compared with other elements. The comparison has been made under normal conditions. If we consider standard pressure and temperature, carbon has the ability to resist oxidation. Therefore, it will not react with sulfuric acid, chlorine, hydrochloric acid and other alkali metals. However, increasing the temperature, carbon will react with oxygen and metals to form carbon dioxides and metal carbides, respectively. 

Carbon can form very long chains which are not only strong but also stable, interconnected C-C bonds. Carbon and its compounds lesson describe that this is the reason behind the formation of an infinite number of compounds. In fact, the count is huge when it comes to carbon compounds compared with other chemical elements. However, hydrogen is the only exception as almost all organic compounds contain the gaseous substance. 

A Detailed Analysis of Carbon

Carbon is unique because of its chemical properties. One of the most interesting parts of the story is, the total components is superior to the whole number of compounds formed from other elements together. One of the biggest groups of these components are formed when hydrogen combines with carbon. The number of organic components is a minimum of 1 million that are known to us, and the number increases dramatically on a yearly basis? The classification may not be fixed, but carbon continues to form a different series of the compounds which are inorganic. The number is quite reduced when compared with organic compounds.

There are a couple of allotropic crystalline states of elemental carbon. These are graphite and diamond. A bit decreased form of crystalline compounds are black fume and vegetal carbon. The pure form of carbon through the chemical process could be prepared with the help of sugar through termic decomposition without the existence of air. Both chemical and physical properties are based on that crystalline structure of that particular element.

Carbon and its Function

The density of carbon keeps fluctuating like 2.25 g/cm³ or 1.30 ounces/in³ in graphite and its 3.51 g/cm³ or 2.03 ounces/in³) in a diamond. Graphite's melting point is 3500ºC or 6332ºF. The boiling point in the extrapolated form is 4830ºC or 8726ºF). Elemental carbon property is inert and thus, its insoluble in bases, water or diluted acids and even organic solvents. However, at higher temperatures, it can bind with oxygen through which carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide are formed. When carbon reacts with oxidizing agents such as nitric acids, metallic acids, potassium nitrate, C6(CO2H)6 is formed. Considering the halogens, fluorine only makes the reaction to elemental carbon. Several metals bind with this element at different degrees of temperature to come up with carbides.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Why is carbon such an important element?

A). Because carbon is a key element to the production of electricity

B). Because without carbon the world of Sun will run out of energy

C). Because carbon is the central element to all living organisms

D). All of the above

E). None of the Above

Ans. C). Because carbon is the central element to all living organisms

2. An alkene with seven carbon atoms has the formula:

A). C7H12

B). C7H13

C). C7H14

D). C7H16

Ans. C). C7H14

3. Find the difference between the molecular formula of any two consecutive members from the series of homologous of organic compounds?

CH2 is the difference when considering the molecular formula of any two consecutive members from the series of homologous of organic compounds.

4. What do you mean by a saturated hydrocarbon?

Hydrocarbons which are in valency of carbon, is satisfied by single bonds only. These are called saturated hydrocarbons.

5. Is the existence of carbon in the air good or bad?

The existence of carbon is crucial to living things. It doesn't harm living things while in the air until reacting with oxygen to form carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.

6. What is carbon made of?

Carbon is made of six neutrons and six protons. It is a chemical element that is known for making patterns.

7. Define carbon from the perspective of molecular formation

Carbon can link with the same chemical element to form resilient, long chains known as polymers. It has the ability to bond up with four different atoms due to electron management. The nucleus in which the atoms are arranged is surrounded by a cloud of electrons.