Automotive

Diesel innovation has humble beginnings

An engine innovation first conceived and tested by Sandia National Laboratories has attracted the attention of big business because of its potential to cost-effectively reduce emissions of soot and nitrogen oxides, encourage ...

Energy & Green Tech

Researchers create green fuel with the flip of a light switch

Researchers at Princeton and Rice universities have combined iron, copper, and a simple LED light to demonstrate a low-cost technique that could be key to distributing hydrogen, a fuel that packs high amounts of energy with ...

Energy & Green Tech

A battery prototype powered by atmospheric nitrogen

As the most abundant gas in Earth's atmosphere, nitrogen has been an attractive option as a source of renewable energy. But nitrogen gas—which consists of two nitrogen atoms held together by a strong, triple covalent bond—doesn't ...

Energy & Green Tech

The paints that eat pollutants and heat homes

Applying a coat of paint on the walls of a house may soon help to heat it, saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions. It could also clean the air that we breathe, breaking down chemicals and pollutants, and eliminating harmful ...

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Nitrogen

Nitrogen (pronounced /ˈnaɪtrədʒɨn/) is a chemical element that has the symbol N and atomic number 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78% by volume of Earth's atmosphere.

Many industrially important compounds, such as ammonia, nitric acid, organic nitrates (propellants and explosives), and cyanides, contain nitrogen. The extremely strong bond in elemental nitrogen dominates nitrogen chemistry, causing difficulty for both organisms and industry in converting the N2 into useful compounds, and releasing large amounts of energy when these compounds burn or decay back into nitrogen gas.

The element nitrogen was discovered by Daniel Rutherford, a Scottish physician, in 1772. Nitrogen occurs in all living organisms. It is a constituent element of amino acids and thus of proteins, and of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). It resides in the chemical structure of almost all neurotransmitters, and is a defining component of alkaloids, biological molecules produced by many organisms.

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