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Thread: Chemistry help with Nitrous Oxide

  1. #1 Chemistry help with Nitrous Oxide 
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    Hello, I am currently in the IB Program, and every IHS IB Student is required to write a 4000 word essay concerning a topic they choose to write about. I chose to write about the effects of Acid Rain. During my writing process, I need to find a way to experiment with Nitrous Oxide and to safely create a small mock Acid Rain effect on a few samples with mud, dirt, plants, and rocks, as well as distilled and saltwater. Sulfur Dioxide is too dangerous to work with and I am pretty sure it is illegal for me to posses it. However, Nitrous Oxide is not as dangerous and can be homemade. On the other hand, there are many risks to making it myself. I plan to buy a small canister for a reasonable price, and before i do so, I wanted to ask a few questions since my advisor, the person that was supposed to help me, is not responding to my emails. The questions are: 1) Can Acid rain form from just Nitrous Oxide? I have seen many articles saying it requires Sulfur Dioxide and many that say it does not. 2) What type of Nitrous Oxide would I get? I see a lot of whip cream rechargers but I don't know if I can just extract the gas from inside properly without risking exposure. 3) How would I infuse the Nitrous Oxide with whatever is needed to create Acid? 4)How would I measure the pH levels in each sample safely? 5) Will you be willing to answer more questions? The instructions also said that I can seek help from websites like this, and if you do, Can I use your words and advice and cite them in my paper? that means I require your level of experience.


    Thank you so much should you choose to answer!


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  3. #2  
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    Nitrous oxide won't form an acid. Acid rain forms from sulfur dioxide reacting with water.


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    Are you sure? I've done research and it says Nitrogen Oxides and Nitrous oxide can form nitric acid
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  5. #4  
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
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    You are mixing up the oxides of nitrogen...

    Nitrous oxide, N2O will not form acid rain (well it will eventually but is has to be turned into NO and NO2 first!). Nitric oxide NO and nitrogen dioxide NO2 do contribute to nitric acid formation in the atmosphere.
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    I've had a think about this... Making your own acid rain is a pain, you can either burn sulphur in air (to make SO2) and trap the gas over water (will dissolve some of the gas to make sulphuric acid), or react copper with concentrated nitric acid (to make NO2) and again trap the gas over water (some will dissolve and reform nitric acid). These processes MUST be done in a fume hood and in small amounts otherwise there will be problems .

    A much simpler investigation would be to make up different concentrations of sulphuric acid (the main component in acid rain), I would suggest 0.01 M, 0.005 M, and 0.001 M and 0.0001 M. You could investigate the effects of these dilute acids onto different rocks etc. and discuss the results. (You may need your teacher or lab tech to help you make these solutions).

    For reference really polluted acid rain has a pH of about 3 or a hydrogen ion concentration of 0.001 M. In most cases the pH of acid rain is higher (4-6) so "real acid rain" will be more similar to the last two solutions.
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    Right, well, my lab teacher/science teacher is m advisor who is not responding to my emails and calls. Thank you though, this was very helpful information.
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  8. #7  
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    Right, well, my lab teacher/science teacher is m advisor who is not responding to my emails and calls. Thank you though, this was very helpful information.
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  9. #8  
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    No problem, hope the project goes well.
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