Neutral oxides. Neutral oxides and their characteristics

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Oxide is inorganic function which presents compounds (substances) that have in their constitution only two different chemical elements, regardless of the number of atoms, being, therefore, compounds binaries. Of the two chemical elements that form a oxide, one of them must be oxygen and the other any element (metal, non-metal or semi-metal). Furthermore, in the oxide molecule, the oxygen is obligatorily the element more electronegative.

Oobservation: In an oxide, the nox (oxidation number) of oxygen is always equal to -2.

The study of oxides it involves several important components such as naming and classification. According to the classification of the oxides, we can have acid oxides, basic oxides, double oxides, amphoteric oxides and neutral oxides. In this text we will emphasize the calls neutral oxides.

Oneutral oxide presents nature molecular (formed by a metal other than fluorine accompanying oxygen), being formed by covalent chemical bonds. It is a group of oxides that does not have a very large number of representatives. The main neutral oxides are listed below:

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  • carbon monoxide (CO)

  • Dinitrogen monoxide or nitrous oxide (N2O)

  • Nitrogen monoxide or nitric oxide (NO)

What makes a neutral oxide of the other oxides is the fact that it not react chemically with water, acids and bases. That's why it's called neutral. But it is noteworthy that it chemically reacts with other substances, such as the chemical reaction between NO and oxygen gas (O2). Follow the reaction that represents the process described:

2 NO + O2 → 2 NO2

Studies of this compound have made several interesting discoveries possible. Below is information about the advantages and disadvantages of the three neutral oxides listed above.

1) Carbon monoxide (CO)

At room temperature it is a colorless and odorless gas. It is very dangerous because of its high toxicity when inhaled. Thanks to its ability to interact with the hemoglobin of red blood cells, carbon monoxide is able to inactivate them for the transport of oxygen or carbon dioxide.

This gas can be formed by natural action(by volcanoes, electrical discharges into the atmosphere and natural gas)or by human action(burning fossil fuels, thermoelectric activities, burning cigarettes and coal, among others).

Although carbon monoxide is quite toxic, it has some specific uses that benefit humans, such as organic syntheses and metal production.

Note.: Carbon monoxide pollutes the environment because, when it reacts with oxygen in the air, it forms carbon dioxide (CO2)

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2) Dinitrogen monoxide or nitrous oxide (N2O)

This oxide was initially called laughing gas or laughing gas because, when inhaled, it causes a crisis of laughter in the individual. It is not a flammable gas, has low solubility in water and is widely used in two areas:

  • medical and dental (as an anesthetic agent with other anesthetic substances)

  • automobile (by increasing the power of engines), in the so-called tuned cars.

Note: Nitrous oxide is considered the third most important gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect. It is produced by burning fossil fuels, treating effluents and also fertilizing the soil.

3) Nitrogen monoxide or nitric oxide (NO)

is an oxide gaseous very important with regard to the medicinal area. It is produced inside cells called macrophages and also in arterial endothelial cells, for example. In the laboratory, it is obtained by the reaction between nitric acid (HNO3) and metallic copper (Cu).

Among the benefits and uses of NO, we can highlight:

  • muscle relaxation of blood vessels (controls blood pressure);

  • destruction of cells that cause inflammatory processes;

  • participates in the production of viagra;

  • participates in the production of medication for angina.

Nitric oxide participates in blood pressure control
Nitric oxide participates in blood pressure control

Note.: Nitric oxide is an extremely toxic gas that, in large concentrations, can cause various damages to the individual, such as:

  • tissue damage;

  • septic shock;

  • digestive bleeding;

  • ischemia;

  • asthma.

He is one atmospheric polluter because, when it reacts with oxygen in the atmosphere, it forms oxides that participate in the process of formation of acid rain. It is noteworthy that it is formed in the atmosphere by the reaction between nitrogen gases (N2) and oxygen (O2) in the presence of electrical discharges. See the equation of formation of NO in the atmosphere:

N2 + O2 → 2 NO

When reacting with oxygen, nitric oxide forms NO2, which participates in the acid rain formation process. See the equations:

2 NO + O2 → 2 NO2 (NO oxide formation reaction2)
2 NO2 + H2O → HNO3 + HNO2
(HNO acids3 and HNO2 that form in this reaction and descend with the rain)

all rain is acid
all rain is acid


By Me. Diogo Lopes Dias

Would you like to reference this text in a school or academic work? Look:

DAYS, Diogo Lopes. "Neutral oxides"; Brazil School. Available in: https://brasilescola.uol.com.br/quimica/oxidos-neutros.htm. Accessed on June 28, 2021.

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