Nitric Oxide vs Nitrous Oxide
Nitric oxide and nitrous oxide are molecules of nitrogen and oxygen. Both are gases in the atmosphere. Today, they are being emitted mostly by anthropogenic activities and affecting the environment in harmful ways.
Nitric oxide is the molecule with the chemical formula NO. This is also known as nitrogen monoxide. This is a radical with one electron on nitrogen. Nitrogen and oxygen make two covalent bonds between them. For the third bond between them, both electrons are donated by nitrogen. Therefore, it is a dative bond. Nitric oxide has the following structure.
Nitric oxide is a colorless gas. When exposed to air, it reacts with oxygen, to produce much more harmful nitrogen dioxide gas. Nitric oxide is an intermediate in some chemical reactions. It is produced as a by-product in fossil fuel burning in vehicle engines and machines. This nitric oxide can cause ozone depletion together with nitrogen dioxide. Naturally, nitric oxide is produced in the air when lightening occurs. In this process, atmospheric nitrogen and oxygen are combined to produce nitric oxide; this is an important step in the nitrogen cycle. This is the nitrate source for providing nutrition for plants. The reaction is as follows and it is an exothermic reaction.
N2 + O2 → 2 NO
In the commercial production of nitric oxide, ammonia is oxidized in the presence of a platinum catalyst. In the laboratory, nitric oxide gas is produced when copper metal is reacted with nitric acid. In biological systems, NO acts as a signaling gas.
Nitrous oxide is the molecule with the chemical formula N2O. This is a colorless, non-flammable gas, and is known as laughing gas or sweet air. Structure of nitrous oxide can be drawn as follows.
Since a negative charge is on one nitrogen, resonance structure for the above structure can be drawn as follows.
Nitrous oxide is produced by heating the ammonium nitrate solid. Nitrous oxide gas is used in surgery due to its anesthetic and analgesic effects. Further, it is used as an oxidizer in internal combustion engines. Also in rocket motor, this is used as an oxidizer. This is a good oxidizer at higher temperatures. Nitric oxide is produced when nitrous oxide reacts with oxygen atoms, and this affects the ozone layer depletion. Therefore, this is considered as an air pollutant and a green house gas.
What is the difference between Nitric Oxide and Nitrous Oxide?
• Nitric oxide is the molecule with the chemical formula NO, and the chemical formula of nitrous oxide is N2O. Therefore, by looking at the formula we can say that the nitric oxide has only one nitrogen atom and nitrous oxide has two nitrogen atoms.
• Nitric oxide is a significant atmospheric pollutant in the lower atmosphere. Nitrous oxide is a green house gas.
• Nitrous oxide can form resonance structures, but nitric oxide cannot.
• Nitrous oxide is used for medicinal purposes, but nitric oxide is not.