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General Properties

Nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas composed of diatomic molecules. Its molecules are represented by the formula N2. The triple bond that holds the two nitrogen atoms together in a nitrogen molecule is very strong, and nitrogen is, therefore, a relatively unreactive element. When a substance burns in air, for example, it reacts with oxygen but, in most cases, not with the nitrogen that is also present in air. One important exception involves the combustion of magnesium in air, in which case both magnesium oxide and magnesium nitride are formed.

Nitrogen has a number of important industrial and commercial uses, as do many of its compounds. The most common of these compounds are those that contain nitrogen and hydrogen (some form of ammonia or its derivative compounds) or nitrogen, oxygen, and a third element, that is, the nitrates and nitrites.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP) to Ockham's razorNitrogen - General Properties, Where It Comes From, How Nitrogen Is Obtained, How We Use It