Dhristi JEE 2022-24

Properties of Ammonia

Ammonia is a colourless gas having a distinct odour. It consists of both nitrogen and hydrogen atoms. It is made naturally in both the human body and nature, such as in air, water, soil, and even in bacteria. Both ammonia and ammonium ions in the human body are important components of several metabolic processes. The human body produces ammonia when it breaks down foods that consist of protein into ammonia and amino acids. It then converts the ammonia to urea. It also plays a crucial role in manufacturing many different products that we use in our day to day lives. 


Ammonium hydroxide, known typically as household ammonia, is an essential ingredient in our day to day household cleaning products. Ammonia makes for the building block for the ammonium nitrate fertilizer. It tends to release nitrogen which is a crucial nutrient in growing plants. In this article, we will learn about the properties of ammonia, liquid ammonia uses and the other uses of Ammonia.


Rainwater contains minor amounts of ammonia and ammonium salts, whereas volcanic districts include ammonium chloride (sal ammoniac) and ammonium sulphate.


To counteract excess acid, the kidneys release ammonia.


Physical Properties of Ammonia

Let us now discuss the physical properties of ammonia.

 

Ammonia Chemical Formula

NH3

Appearance 

Colourless gas

Odour 

A strong and pungent odour

Ammonia Melting Point

−77.73 °C or −107.91 °F or 195.42 K

Ammonia Boiling Point

−33.34 °C or −28.01 °F or 239.81 K

Ammonia Density

0.86 kg/m3

 

Chemical Properties of Ammonia

Let us now learn about the chemical properties of ammonia.

  1. Ammonia is highly soluble in water. The NH3 aqueous solution is a weak base since OH- ions get formed.

NH3 + H20 →  N4+ + OH-

  1. Ammonium salts get formed when ammonia reacts with an acid.

ZnS04 + 2NH4OH (g) →  Zn(OH)2 + (NH4)2SO4

 

Uses of Ammonia

Now, let us take a look at the ammonia solution uses, ammonium carbonate uses, and ammonia gas uses.

 

1. Uses of Ammonia in Fertilizers

Around 90 per cent of the ammonia which is produced tends to get used up in fertilizers to help in sustaining the production of food for the population of the world. When food crops are produced naturally, it depletes the supplies of the soil nutrients. For maintaining the health of the crops, farmers depend on fertilizers for keeping their soils better and productive. Also, fertilizers tend to help in increasing the level of essential nutrients such as selenium, zinc and boron in the food crops.

 

2. Uses of Ammonia in several Household Cleaning Products

Ammonia is used as an ingredient or on its own in several household products used for cleaning many household surfaces such as sinks, toilets, tubs, tiles, kitchen countertops, etc. Ammonia is effective also in breaking down stains from vegetable oils, animal fats, or any sort of household grime or cooking grease. Since ammonia tends to evaporate faster, it is often used to clean glasses and, in turn, help in preventing streaking.

 

3. Uses of Ammonia in Industries and Manufacturing

  • Ammonia tends to absorb significant amounts of heat from its surroundings when it is used in the form of refrigerant and air-conditioning equipment.

  • Ammonia is also used in the purification of water supplies. It also acts as a building block for manufacturing many different kinds of products including fabrics, plastics, dyes, explosives, and pesticides. 

  • Ammonia also has its use in the treatment of wastewater and waste, rubber, cold storage, paper and pulp, and in the industries of food and beverages in the form of a stabilizer, neutraliser, and acts as a nitrogen source. It also has its usage in the manufacturing of several pharmaceuticals.

FAQs on Uses of Ammonia

1. What are the health-related side effects of Ammonia?

Since ammonia tends to naturally have its presence everywhere in the environment, all of us are exposed to lower levels of the gas at some time or the other. However, a person can also be exposed to higher levels of ammonia if they are using any sort of cleaning products that contain ammonia, or in case they live on or near any kind of farm in which they tend to use the fertilizers. A person can also be exposed to higher levels of ammonia if they spend time in a closed building that consists of many animals.


However, there are not any health effects that have been found in people when they are exposed to a certain level of ammonia that exists in the environment. However, exposure to greater levels of the gas present in the air can cause severe irritations to the human eyes, skin, lungs and throat and can lead to burns and coughing.

2. Is Ammonia present in the environment?

Ammonia is a colourless gas that has a distinct pungent odour. It comprises nitrogen and nitrogen atoms and has a chemical formula NH3. Ammonia is made naturally both in the human body and in the environment and is found in air, water, soil and even in microorganisms. Considering human health, both ammonia and ammonium ions are crucial parts of several metabolic activities. 


Ammonia is naturally present throughout the environment. It is also naturally renewed in the form of the nitrogen cycle which is a phenomenon that occurs when plants are fertilized. Due to this natural process, ammonia does not tend to last longer in the environment and also does not tend to bioaccumulate.

3. Is ammonia bad?

Small levels of ammonia are not detrimental to health or life. It is harmful to persons with inhalation or contact allergies. Before using ammonia, make sure you're not allergic.


If you drink ammonia powder or its solution, you will be poisoned. Workers in industries that use ammonia are at the greatest risk of ammonia poisoning.


Cleaning, washing, and cosmetic agents include no more than 5% ammonia. Poisoning is impossible at this concentration. However, utilising and creating ammonia solutions requires significant caution.

4. Is Ammonia Harmful to Plants Outside?

Outside, ammonia can utterly kill plants, sometimes even overnight if the concentration is high enough. 


Gardeners seeking a speedy greening effect on their lawn may be tempted to use more nitrogen fertilizer than is suggested or to use much-hyped materials such as chicken dung, which contains high levels of ammonia and can burn plants if not properly composted first. 


To stop this from happening, be cautious while introducing any ammonia-containing item.

5. Is ammonia in the water a health hazard?

Ammonia in water is non-toxic to humans, but it is hazardous to aquatic life due to its high nitrogen content. 


Unlike other forms of nitrogen, which can cause indirect harm to aquatic ecosystems by increasing nutrient levels and encouraging algae growth in a process known as eutrophication, ammonia has direct harmful effects on aquatic ecosystems and is therefore prohibited in aquatic environments.

6. How true is it that Ammonia is present in the environment?

Ammonia is a substance that occurs naturally in the environment. However, the majority of ammonia is created by bacteria in water and soil as a byproduct of the decomposition of plant and animal waste. It shows that it is present in the environment. 


Plants use it as a source of nitrogen since it is prevalent in relatively low harmless amounts in soil, air, and water, and it does not harm them.

7. What causes ammonia to be produced?

Ammonia was mostly manufactured until the early 1900s by dry distillation of animal waste products and certain nitrogen-rich vegetable waste. 


The reduction of nitrites and nitrous acids, as well as hydrogen, was achieved by distilling these waste products. 


Ammonia was eventually obtained as a product. Ammonia is now generated industrially via the Haber-Bosch process, which involves a reaction between molecular nitrogen and molecular hydrogen in the gaseous phase. 


It's worth noting that this reaction occurs at relatively high temperatures and pressures.

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