Before the start of World War I, most ammonia was obtained by the dry distillation of nitrogenous vegetable and animal products; by the reduction of nitrous acid and nitrites with hydrogen; and also by the decomposition of ammonium salts by alkaline hydroxides or by quicklime.Gaseous ammonia was first isolated by J. Priestley in 1774 and was termed by him “alkaline air.” In 1777 Karl Wilhelm Scheele showed that it contained nitrogen. The Haber process to produce ammonia from the nitrogen contained in the air was developed by Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch in 1909 and patented in 1910. It was first used on an industrial scale by the Germans during World War I. The ammonia was used to produce explosives to sustain their war effort.

Nitric Acid:

Nitric acid history can be traced as far back as the Middle Ages when it was made from a mixture of Saltpeter and sand which was then distilled by a hot fire.  The gas cooled and condensed, producing the liquid known as Aqua Fortis or Nitric Acid. It was an important substance for alchemists as it was used to dissolve silver and many other metals. Today, nitric acid is one of the mostly widely used mineral acids in industry, a particularly significant use being in the production of fertilizer.  Nitric Acid is also used in the production of explosives such as TNT and also in the purification of metals.

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My References

1. Wikipedia- Ammonium Nitrate:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonium_nitrate

2. Wikipedia- Ammonia:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonia

3. Wikipedia- Nitric Acid:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitric_acid

4. Wikipedia- The Production of Ammonia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonia_production

5. Ammonium Nitrate Image: http://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/cf/Ammonium-nitrate-xtal-3D-balls-A.png/200px-Ammonium-nitrate-xtal-3D-balls-A.png&imgr

6. Nitric Acid Image: http://find-fm.com//search.php?aid=11649&keyword=nitric+acid

7. Ammonia Container Image: http://www.mingyangproducts.com/images/ammonia.jpg

8. Nitric Acid Container Image: http://www.amazingrust.com/experiments/background_knowledge/Images/Nitric_Acid-big.jpg

9. Nitric Acid Image: http://www.m1-garand-rifle.com/parkerizing/pictures/150px-Nitric-acid-3D-balls-A.png

10. ANFO Image: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_k4K8rHN9FQo/TRxm-RylmXI/AAAAAAAAAZI/RDMsHvqs-4A/s1600/anfo2.gif

11. Fertilizer Image: http://www.biology-blog.com/images/blogs/10-2007/fertilizer-15101.gif

12. Ammonia Image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/05/Ammonia-3D-balls-A.png

13. Icepack Image: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_KPGV07J_bUg/TE3CpNK58dI/AAAAAAAAAkk/dj46dXqqb78/s400/instant+ice+pack.jpg

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Uses for the Products of this Reaction/ Significance of the Reaction to Industry

Ammonium nitrate, the product of the reaction between ammonia and nitric acid, is used in many different ways. It is most commonly used in agriculture as a high- nitrogen fertilizer. It is used as an oxidizing agent in explosives and is the main component of ANFO, a very popular explosive. Ammonium nitrate is used in instant cold packs, as hydrating the salt is an endothermic process. As well, it is used in the treatment of titanium ores and in solid- fuel rocket propellants, and in pyrotechnics.This reaction is quite significant to industry. If the reaction between ammonia and nitric acid did not exist, the fertilizing industry would probably not even exist. As well, we would not be able to make certain important explosives such as ANFO.

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Description of the Physical and Chemical Properties of the Product

Ammonium Nitrate ( NH4NO3)- Physical Properties:

– a white crystalline solid at room temperature

– melting point: 169.6 °C

– highly soluble

– heating may cause violent combustion

– density: 1.725 g/cm3

Chemical Properties:

– reacts with combustible and reducing materials as it is a strong oxidant

– heating of the water solution or burning decomposes the salt to toxic fumes (nitrous oxide)

– reacts with alkali metal hydroxides, releasing ammonia and forming alkali metal nitrate

–  is formed in the atmosphere from emissions of NO, SO2 and NH3

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Conditions for the Reaction to Occur/ Type of Reaction


The processes involved in the production of ammonium nitrate in industry, although chemically simple, are technologically challenging. The acid-base reaction of ammonia with nitric acid gives a solution of ammonium nitrate.This is done using anhydrous ammonia gas and concentrated nitric acid. The reaction that occurs is called synthesis (which is when two or more simple compounds combine to form a more complicated one) and is very violent. After the solution is formed, the excess water is evaporated to an ammonium nitrate (AN) content. The AN melt is then made into “prills” or small beads in a spray tower. It can also be made into granules by spraying and tumbling in a rotating drum. The prills or granules are then dried, cooled, and coated which prevents caking. These prills or granules are the typical AN products used in commerce.

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How the Reactants are Obtained



Ammonia is obtained through the process of natural gas being converted in gaseous hydrogen.The method for producing hydrogen from hydrocarbons is referred to as “Steam Reforming”. After it is converted, the hydrogen is combined with nitrogen. This produces the chemical ammonia.

Nitric Acid:

There are several ways in obtaining nitric acid. Nitric acid is quite usually obtained by reacting nitrogen dioxide with water. Pure nitric acid is obtained by adding sulfuric acid to a nitrate salt, and heating the mixture with an oil bath. A condenser is used to condense the nitric acid fumes that bubble out of the solution.In laboratory, nitric acid can be obtained from copper (II) nitrate or by reacting equal amounts of a nitrate salt with 96% sulfuric acid. This mixture is then distilled at nitric acid’s boiling point of 83 °C until only a white crystalline mass, remains in the reaction vessel. The red fuming nitric acid obtained can be converted to white nitric acid.

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Description of the Physical and Chemical Properties of the Reactants- Part Two- Nitric Acid

Nitric Acid- Physical Properties:

– a colourless liquid (but commercial nitric acid is yellowish brown in colour)

– suffocating smell

–  has an acidic taste

– density – 1.54g/cm³ of 98% nitric acid.

– density- commericial nitric acid of 68% is 1.42g/cm³.

– boiling point-  86 degree centigrade

– melting point -42 degree centigrade

– soluble in water in all proporations

– highly corrosive

Chemical Properties:

a strong oxidizing agent

– highly explosive with sodium, potassium and calcium

– is unstable to heat or sunlight

– changes color when reacting with metals

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