Ammonia vs Ammonium Nitrate
How do you compare a gas with its nitrate? This is what happens when one tries to find out differences between ammonia and ammonium nitrate. But so useful is this gas, and its various compounds that one is tempted to find out differences between NH3, the gas, and NH4NO3, the nitrate of ammonia. Most of the people are aware about ammonia but not many know the useful properties of ammonium nitrate.
Ammonia is known more for its pungent smell than anything else. It is a toxic, highly reactive, and corrosive gas that can make one ill just by sniffing. It has been a cause of loss of lives because of accidents but it is a fact that NH3 is also one of the most useful gases for the mankind. It is a compound that is vital in the manufacture of plastics, fertilizers, and even explosives. Ammonia is made up of nitrogen and hydrogen atoms, and there is great intermolecular attraction in this gas which explains its high melting and boiling points (-77.7 and -33.5 degree Celsius respectively).
Ammonia is highly soluble in water because of the high polarity of its molecules and their ability to form hydrogen bonds. When dissolved in water, ammonia acquires hydrogen ions from water to make ammonium ions and hydroxide ions. Not all ammonia molecules undergo transformation and a substantial portion remains as ammonia molecules in an aqueous solution. Ammonia is a weak base and reacts with acids to form their salts.
Ammonia fulfills energy requirements of terrestrial organisms and is also used as a primary product in pharmaceutical industry. It is a strong cleaning agent. With its production across the world being more than 150 million tones, one can understand the importance of ammonia for the mankind. For practical purposes, ammonia is used as anhydrous ammonia. Because of its high boiling point, it is stored at a high pressure at low temperatures. For household purposes, ammonia is used as its aqueous solution with ammonia being 5 to 10% by weight in water.
Ammonium nitrate is a compound of ammonia that is formed when ammonia reacts with nitric acid. The chemical formula of ammonium nitrate is NH4NO3 and it is a crystalline solid widely used in agriculture and for making explosives. It acts as a high nitrogen fertilizer for soils and when used in explosives, it works as an oxidizing agent. It is a very strong oxidant and reacts with both combustible as well as reducing agents.
Because of its excellent explosive properties, many countries, fearing misuse of NH4NO3 by terrorists have banned the compound to be sold freely and license is required to trade in this compound.
To make ammonium nitrate, anhydrous ammonia gas is made to react with nitric acid to get a solution of ammonium nitrate which has a concentration of 83%. This solution is boiled to evaporate water and to get 95% concentrated NH4NO3. Also called AN melt, this compound is made into prills or beads or granules. These beads are further dried to prevent caking and then sold as the final product.
Difference Between Ammonia and Ammonium Nitrate
• Ammonia is a gas while ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound
• Ammonia serves energy requirements of many organisms as a precursor to fertilizers while Ammonium nitrate is used mainly as a fertilizer and an explosive agent
• The formula of ammonia is NH3 while the formula of ammonium nitrate is NH4NO3
• Ammonia makes dozens of other compounds apart from ammonium nitrate