Oxygen is a chemical element, colorless and odorless. It is represented by the symbol (O) and on the periodic table its atomic number 8. In gas form it’s colorless but in liquid, it’s pale blue in color and very cold.
It is very vital for the existence of living organisms. Animals take in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide in the act of respiration. On the other hand, plants take in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen. This is done by a process called photosynthesis where plants use energy from the sun to produce oxygen from carbon monoxide and water. Thus the two coexist perfectly.
Two atoms of the element bind and form dioxygen with the formula O2. It’s called dioxygen because the element in its pure form is made of two atoms of the element coming together to form a molecule. The oxygen atom O is not stable thus to stabilize it’s combined with another oxygen atom to create oxygen gas (O2).
Oxygen is an oxidizing agent and a highly reactive nonmetal readily forming oxides with most compounds and elements.
Uses of oxygen
Physiological uses of Oxygen:
1. Extraction of energy from ingested foods.
This is done through a process called oxidation where energy is created from the foods that we eat and this gives is the energy that we need to function. Oxygen is absorbed from the lungs to the bloodstream and then to the cells
2. Improving our immune system.
Oxygen kills bacteria and energizes cells that constitute our body defense.
3. Maintaining the functions of the eye.
Eyes receive oxygen through the cornea directly.
4. in medicine where supplementation of oxygen is necessary.
For example in cases of low saturation of oxygen in the blood, carbon monoxide toxicity and even in anesthesia. Supplemental oxygen needs to be humidified so as not to dry out the nose. In very high concentrations of oxygen can result in oxygen toxicity.
5. Deep-sea diving
In situations where there is difficulty in breathing such as with deep-sea divers.
People with conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
To kill some anaerobic bacteria by sufficiently exposing them to the gas
Industrial uses of oxygen
8. In manufacturing steel oxygen converts carbon to carbon dioxide gas under very high temperatures in effect carbon dioxide helps iron oxides to be reduced into pure iron compounds
9. Degrading hydrocarbon compounds. It’s causes combustion which releases water and carbon dioxide
10. Sewage treatment and water purification. By pumping it through water it increases the production of bacteria helpful for metabolizing waste products does purify the water
11. Pressurized commercial airplanes. In case the cabin depressurizes oxygen is automatically supplied in an emergency via face masks
12. Used in rockets and missiles. As an oxidizing agent, it reacts with liquid hydrogen to produce the takeoff thrust.
13. Manufacturing of synthetic fuels such as producer gas.
14. Welding touches and cutting. Oxygen reacts with hydrogen to produce oxyhydrogen touch and the reaction between acetylene and oxygen produces oxyacetylene touch.
15. Production of iron ore. Oxygen converts carbon to carbon monoxide then the carbon monoxide reduces iron oxides to pure iron metal.