Q:

What is the structure of an ammonia molecule?

A:

Quick Answer

The structure of an ammonia molecule consists of one nitrogen atom surrounded by three hydrogen atoms in a trigonal pyramidal molecular geometry. Ammonia is denoted as NH3 in formulas and is also referred to as ammonia gas, nitro-sil, Spirit of Hartshorn, anhydrous ammonia, aromatic ammonia and vaporole. Its molecular weight is 17.0305.

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Full Answer

Ammonia is a colorless, pungent smelling gas. It is sourced both naturally and through manufacturing. From nature, it is produced from the decay of living things, bacteria and animal waste. It provides a source of nitrogen for animals and plants, naturally occurring in the air, water and soil.

Manufactured ammonia is most often used in fertilizers. Other manufacturing uses include:

  • pesticides
  • pulp and paper
  • explosives
  • synthetic fibers
  • smelling salts
  • cleaning products
  • fuel cells
  • rocket fuel
  • other chemicals, such as nitric acid and cyanide

Ammonia is also used in various industries:

  • Metal treating and chlorine water treatment.
  • Rubber industry: used to stabilize raw latex.
  • Petroleum industry: protects equipment.
  • Citrus farming: applied to oranges, lemons and grapefruit stored in warehouses to prevent fungus.

Ammonia can also be used as a refrigerant in meat, fish and poultry processing facilities; dairy and ice cream plants; breweries and wineries; food and drink processing facilities and general cold storage warehousing.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, exposure to low levels of ammonia is common and includes uses of ammonia in the home, on farms through fertilizers and at work if the facility uses chemicals containing ammonia. Exposure to elevated levels of ammonia can be dangerous, causing fluid buildup in lungs and burning eyes, throat and skin. Swallowing ammonia will burn the mouth, throat and stomach and may cause acute abdominal pain. Direct exposure to skin can cause burns, blistering and dermatitis. Direct contact on the eyes may cause irritation or damage to the cornea, conjunctivitis and temporary or permanent blindness.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What happens when you mix Clorox and ammonia?

    A:

    Mixing bleach with ammonia produces toxic gases that are known as chloramines, according to the Washington State Department of Health. These gases cause a number of uncomfortable symptoms, including wheezing, irritation to the mucous membranes, pneumonia from fluid in the lungs, chest pain, nausea, watery eyes, trouble breathing and coughing.

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  • Q:

    What are some examples of a nucleophile vs. an electrophile?

    A:

    Nucleophiles tend to be ions like the chloride ion or molecules like ammonia, while electrophiles are ions like the hydrogen ion or acids like HCl. In general, nucleophiles have more electrons than expected, while electrophiles have fewer electrons than expected.

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  • Q:

    What is the oxidation number for NH3?

    A:

    The oxidation number for NH3, also known as ammonia, is 0. Although the oxidation number of the nitrogen atom in the molecule is -3, the oxidation numbers for the three hydrogen atoms are equal to +3, so the two elements cancel each other out.

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  • Q:

    Is NH3 an acid?

    A:

    The molecule NH3, known as ammonia, is a weak base, not an acid. It undergoes a reaction with water where the water molecule is broken apart, forming ammonium and hydroxide ions. The hydroxide ions can accept hydrogen ions from acids, creating water molecules and neutralizing them.

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