Last time we talked about the unusual properties of elemental nitrogen mostly and how stable it is. We only touched on a little of the fascinating and extremely complex chemistry of nitrogen, ONCE we can get it in a form other than the incredibly stable elemental form.
This time we shall remedy this, although entire graduate level texts have been written on the subject. Tonight we shall take a brief survey of the impact that nitrogen has on living organisms, industry, and a few other areas. We shall attempt to do this by looking at various oxidation states, and nitrogen has more than any other element.
The basic concept is that atoms can either donate or accept electrons from other atoms. When an atom donates electrons, it is oxidized, and when it accepts electrons it is reduced. Thus, chlorine bleach works because hypochlorite ion is a strong oxidizing agent and breaks up large, colored molecules to smaller, colorless ones.