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       Ammonia is an important chemical compound having formula NH3. It is prepared from hydrogen and nitrogen by Haber process.

In Haber process first of all nitrogen and hydrogen gases are dried and mixed in the ratio of 1:3 by volume. The mixture is then passed over iron catalyst at a temperature of 450°C – 500°C and 200 – 300 atmospheric pressure. The catalyst is mixed with some other substances such as aluminium oxide (Al2O3) and potassium oxide (K2O) which act as promoters. A promoter is a substance which increases the efficiency of a catalyst. Finally, the reaction mixture is cooled to below 0°C to separate the liquid ammonia from unreacted hydrogen and nitrogen gases.

                      N2     +     3H2         2NH3
                 Nitrogen    Hydrogen                         Ammonia

Physical Properties of Ammonia

    1. It is a colourless gas and has a pungent smell.
    2. It can be easily liquefied.
    3. It is lighter than air.
    4. It is highly soluble in water.

Chemical Properties of Ammonia

       Ammonia turns red litmus blue. This means that ammonia is alkaline in nature.

1. Reaction of Ammonia with Water

       Ammonia reacts with water to form ammonium hydroxide.

                   NH3     +     H2O         NH4OH
              Ammonia        Water                    Ammonium hydroxide

2. Reaction of Ammonia with HCl

       When a rod of glass dipped in concentrated hydrochloric acid is introduced in a jar containing ammonia, ammonium chloride is formed in the form of dense white fumes.

                   NH3         +         HCl             NH4Cl
              Ammonia       Hydrochloric acid                 Ammonium chloride

3. Reducing action of Ammonia

       Ammonia is a good reducing agent. Thus, it can reduce metal oxides in metals. For example, copper oxide is reduced to copper metal after reacting with ammonia.

   3CuO     +       2NH3       3Cu     +     3H2O     +     N2
Copper oxide   Ammonia                   Copper metal     Water       Nitrogen

4. Catalytic Oxidation of Ammonia

       When ammonia is mixed with oxygen and passed over catalyst platinum and heated to 800°C, it is oxidized to nitric oxide.

           4NH3     +     5O2         4NO     +     6H2O
       Ammonia                                            Nitric oxide

Uses of Ammonia

  1. The major use of ammonia is in the manufacture of fertilizers such as ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulphate.

  2. Hydrogen is used in the manufacture of ammonia by Haber’s process.

  3. Various types of dyes, explosives, household cleaners and nylon are prepared from ammonia.

  4. It is also used in the manufacture of nitric acid.