Carbon Monoxide Essay

1556 words - 6 pages

Carbon monoxide, written with the chemical formula CO, occurs as a gas found naturally in the atmosphere as well as created by man. It has a density of 1.161 kg/m3 in gas form at 70ºF, barely less dense than that of air (approximately 1.202 kg/m3 at 70ºF). CO is colorless and odorless, but is flammable and burns in air with a characteristic blue flame, producing carbon dioxide. Carbon monoxide has a boiling point of -192 ºC (81 K) and a melting point of -205 ºC (68 K). CO has a linear geometry and three resonance structures, two of which violate the octet rule. (Penny) Carbon monoxide is also extremely poisonous to all warm-blooded animals and to many other forms of life. Even .1% in the air is enough to kill a person within 2-4 hours, while 1% in the air can kill a person in under 5 minutes. When inhaled it combines with hemoglobin in the blood, preventing absorption of oxygen and resulting in asphyxiation. It is a reducing agent, removing oxygen from many compounds and is used in the reduction of metals, such as iron, from their ores. (Penny)Several major cycles and components in the atmosphere are affected by the release of carbon monoxide. One of the major issues with carbon monoxide in the atmosphere has to do with its relation to greenhouse gasses; components of the atmosphere that contribute to the greenhouse effect which warms the planet. (Reay) One such issue is with hydroxyl (OH) radicals. The hydroxyl radical is the neutral form of the hydroxide ion. Hydroxyl radicals are highly reactive and consequently short lived, and are often used as a "detergent of the troposphere" (Uherek) due to it's oxidation of several pollutants, including CO. Carbon monoxide in the atmosphere can also lead to the formation of the tropospheric greenhouse gas ozone (O3) through a series of reactions. Although ozone is a key component of the troposphere, when too much is created it becomes a pollutant. Much like OH radicals, tropospheric ozone is a greenhouse gas and initiates the chemical removal of methane and other hydrocarbons from the atmosphere. The series of reactions that occurs a after CO reacts with an OH radical isOH + CO -> H + CO2H + O2 -> HO2HO2 + NO -> OH + NO2NO2 + Sunlight -> NO + OO + O2 -> O3The net effect of the reactions with carbon monoxide to form ozone is CO + 2O2 -> CO2 + O3. This reaction also forms carbon dioxide which, like ozone, becomes a pollutant in large quantities. (Borell)Carbon monoxide has many common sources. One of the most common sources is the exhaust of an internal combustion engine, when burning a carbon-based fuel, especially when there is insufficient oxygen present. Carbon monoxide is also present in small but significant concentrations in cigarette smoke. In the home, CO gas forms when fuels like natural gas, oil or wood do not burn completely in appliances such as furnaces and stoves, water heaters, ranges and ovens. Thus, common sources of carbon monoxide include leaky heat...

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