Essay on common chemicals

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An element is a chemical substance made up of a particular kind of atom and hence cannot be broken down or transformed by a chemical reaction into a different element, though it can be transmuted into another element through a nuclear reaction. This is so, because all of the atoms in a sample of an element have the same number of protons, though they may be different isotopes , with differing numbers of neutrons. As of , there are known elements, about 80 of which are stable — that is, they do not change by radioactive decay into other elements.

Some elements can occur as more than a single chemical substance allotropes. For instance, oxygen exists as both diatomic oxygen O 2 and ozone O 3. The majority of elements are classified as metals. These are elements with a characteristic lustre such as iron , copper , and gold. Metals typically conduct electricity and heat well, and they are malleable and ductile.

Non-metals lack the metallic properties described above, they also have a high electronegativity and a tendency to form negative ions. Certain elements such as silicon sometimes resemble metals and sometimes resemble non-metals, and are known as metalloids. A chemical compound is a chemical substance that is composed of a particular set of atoms or ions. Two or more elements combined into one substance through a chemical reaction form a chemical compound. All compounds are substances, but not all substances are compounds. A chemical compound can be either atoms bonded together in molecules or crystals in which atoms, molecules or ions form a crystalline lattice.

Compounds based primarily on carbon and hydrogen atoms are called organic compounds , and all others are called inorganic compounds. Compounds containing bonds between carbon and a metal are called organometallic compounds. Compounds in which components share electrons are known as covalent compounds. Compounds consisting of oppositely charged ions are known as ionic compounds, or salts. In organic chemistry, there can be more than one chemical compound with the same composition and molecular weight.

Generally, these are called isomers. Isomers usually have substantially different chemical properties, and often may be isolated without spontaneously interconverting. A common example is glucose vs. The former is an aldehyde , the latter is a ketone. Their interconversion requires either enzymatic or acid-base catalysis. However, tautomers are an exception: the isomerization occurs spontaneously in ordinary conditions, such that a pure substance cannot be isolated into its tautomers, even if these can be identified spectroscopically or even isolated in special conditions.

A common example is glucose , which has open-chain and ring forms. One cannot manufacture pure open-chain glucose because glucose spontaneously cyclizes to the hemiacetal form. All matter consists of various elements and chemical compounds, but these are often intimately mixed together. Mixtures contain more than one chemical substance, and they do not have a fixed composition.

In principle, they can be separated into the component substances by purely mechanical processes. Butter , soil and wood are common examples of mixtures. Grey iron metal and yellow sulfur are both chemical elements, and they can be mixed together in any ratio to form a yellow-grey mixture. No chemical process occurs, and the material can be identified as a mixture by the fact that the sulfur and the iron can be separated by a mechanical process, such as using a magnet to attract the iron away from the sulfur.

The resulting compound has all the properties of a chemical substance and is not a mixture.

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Iron II sulfide has its own distinct properties such as melting point and solubility , and the two elements cannot be separated using normal mechanical processes; a magnet will be unable to recover the iron, since there is no metallic iron present in the compound. Most processes for the production of sodium involve the electrolysis of molten sodium chloride.

Inexpensive and available in tank-car quantities, the element is used to produce gasoline additives, polymers such as nylon and synthetic rubber , pharmaceuticals, and a number of metals such as tantalum , titanium , and silicon. It is also widely used as a heat exchanger and in sodium-vapour lamps. The yellow colour of the sodium-vapour lamp and the sodium flame the basis of an analytical test for sodium is identified with two prominent lines in the yellow portion of the light spectrum.

Two of the earliest uses of metallic sodium were in the manufacture of sodium cyanide and sodium peroxide. Significant quantities were used in the manufacture of tetraethyl lead as a gasoline additive, a market that disappeared with the advent of unleaded gasoline. Substantial amounts of sodium are used in the manufacture of sodium alkyl sulfates as the principal ingredient in synthetic detergents.

Sodium also is used as a starting material in the manufacture of sodium hydride NaH and sodium borohydride NaBH 4. In addition, sodium is employed in the production of dyes and dye intermediates, in the synthesis of perfumes , and in a wide variety of organic reductions. It is used in the purification of hydrocarbons and in the polymerization of unsaturated hydrocarbons. In many organic applications, sodium is used in the form of dispersions in hydrocarbon liquid media. Molten sodium is an excellent heat-transfer fluid, and, because of this property, it has found use as coolant in liquid-metal fast breeder reactors.

Sodium is used extensively in metallurgy as a deoxidant and as a reducing agent for the preparation of calcium , zirconium , titanium , and other transition metals. Commercial production of titanium involves reduction of titanium tetrachloride TiCl 4 with sodium. The products are metallic Ti and NaCl. Sodium is highly reactive, forming a wide variety of compounds with nearly all inorganic and organic anions negatively charged ions.


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The principal commercial sodium compounds are the chloride, carbonate, and sulfate. The most important and familiar sodium compound is sodium chloride, or common salt, NaCl. Most other sodium compounds are prepared either directly or indirectly from sodium chloride, which occurs in seawater, in natural brines, and as rock salt.

Large quantities of sodium chloride are employed in the production of other heavy industrial chemicals as well as being used directly for ice and snow removal, for water conditioning, and in food. Other major commercial applications of sodium chloride include its use in the manufacture of chlorine and sodium hydroxide by electrolytic decomposition and in the production of sodium carbonate Na 2 CO 3 by the Solvay process.

The electrolysis of aqueous sodium chloride produces sodium hypochlorite , NaOCl, a compound of sodium, oxygen , and chlorine used in large quantities in household chlorine bleach. Sodium hypochlorite is also utilized as an industrial bleach for paper pulp and textiles, for chlorination of water, and in certain medicinal preparations as an antiseptic and a fungicide. Professor, Masdar Institute. Chemical engineers translate processes developed in the lab into practical applications for the commercial production of products and then work to maintain and improve those processes.

They rely on the main foundations of engineering: math, physics, and chemistry though biology is playing an increasing role.

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The main role of chemical engineers is to design and troubleshoot processes for the production of chemicals, fuels, foods, pharmaceuticals, and biologicals, just to name a few. They are most often employed by large-scale manufacturing plants to maximize productivity and product quality while minimizing costs. The aerospace, automotive, biomedical, electronic, environmental, medical, and military industries seek the skills of chemical engineers in order to help develop and improve their technical products, such as:.

Chemical engineers work in almost every industry and affect the production of almost every article manufactured on an industrial scale. Some typical tasks include:. Economics, psychology, and political science help chemical engineers to understand the impact of technology on society. Chemical engineers are encouraged to obtain a license, but it is not always required as it is for many other engineering professions. Licensing generally requires a degree from an accredited engineering program, passing scores on Fundamentals of Engineering FE, taken just after graduation and Principals and Practice of Engineering PPE exams, and four years of engineering experience.

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Those who pass are called Professional Engineers PEs and may need continuing education to maintain the licensure. One benefit of being licensed is that there are some jobs that only PEs can do e. Chemical engineers typically work in manufacturing plants, research laboratories, or pilot plant facilities. They work around large-scale production equipment that is housed both indoors and outdoors and are often required to wear personal protective equipment, such as hard hats, goggles, and steel-toe shoes. A typical workday for a chemical engineer working in a plant may involve traveling from one function to the next within a facility.

Chemical engineers who work in business and management offices often visit research and production facilities. Interaction with other people who are part of a team is critical to the success of projects. Entry-level chemical engineers typically work under the supervision of more senior engineers, especially before they earn their license.

They may advance to supervising teams of technicians or other management positions.