- Nitrous oxide, is a
colorless, almost odorless gas, that was first discovered in 1793 by the
English scientist and clergyman Joseph Priestley.
- The structure of the
nitrous oxide molecule is a linear chain of a nitrogen atom bound to a
second nitrogen atom, which in turn is bound to an oxygen atom. It can
be considered a resonance hybrid of N=N+-O- and -N=N+=O.
- Nitrous oxide is
most commonly made by fusing and "boiling" ammonium nitrate to form
steam, nitrous oxide, nitrogen, ammonium nitrate 'fog' and small amounts
of very toxic higher oxides of nitrogen.
- Nitrous oxide (N2O)
is a dissociative that can cause analgesia, euphoria, dizziness,
flanging of sound, and, in some cases, slight hallucinations and mild
- Nitrous oxide drug
is often mislabeled as an 'inhalant', implying it bears a relation to
substances such as glue, gasoline, or aerosol sprays. The drug currently
(as of 2005) enjoys moderate popularity in some countries. It was often
sold at Grateful Dead and Phish concerts.
- Nitrous oxide can
cause dizziness, dissociation, and temporary loss of motor control, it
is unsafe to inhale while standing up. Inhalation directly from a tank
poses serious health risks, as it can cause frostbite since the gas is
very cold when released.
- The gas is extremely
soluble in fatty compounds. In aerosol whipped cream, it is dissolved in
the fatty cream until it leaves the can, when it becomes gaseous and
thus creates foam.
- Nitrous oxide can
also be used in a monopropellant rocket. In the presence of a heated
catalyst, N2O will decompose exothermically into nitrogen and oxygen, at
a temperature of approximately 1300 degrees celsius.
- The application of
nitrogen based fertilizers in many areas has been excessive, with large
proportions of the added fertilizer providing no benefit to crop yield,
but inducing elevated nitrous oxide emissions.
- N2O is widely used
clinically because of its good analgesic properties; however, it is a
relatively weak anesthetic, requiring high volume percent and hyperbaric
conditions to achieve the minimal alveolar concentration for
- The major safety
hazards of nitrous oxide come from the fact that it is a compressed
liquefied gas, and a dissociative anaesthetic. While normally inert in
storage and fairly safe to handle, nitrous oxide can decompose
energetically and potentially detonate if initiated under the wrong
circumstances. Liquid nitrous oxide acts a good solvent for many organic
compounds; liquid mixtures can form somewhat sensitive
- Nitrous oxide breaks
down into nitrogen and oxygen at elevated temperatures, such as those
found in automotive and rocket engines. It greatly improves combustion
by making more oxygen available to the combustion process.