Aren't below statements from this link contradicting each other?

  • Nitrogen bonds to almost all the elements in the periodic table except the first three noble gases, helium, neon, and argon

  • Nitrogen gas is mostly used as an inert atmosphere whenever the oxygen in the air would pose a fire, explosion, or oxidising problems

How can one element be both inert and bond with everything at the same time? Aren't inertness and bonding mutually exclusive?


1 Answer 1


Nitrogen as an atom can be bound to any other atom of the periodic table. But nitrogen as a molecule is something else. It is $\ce{N2}$ and the two atoms are strongly bound in the molecule. It is even extremely difficult to separate the two atoms from the molecule $\ce{N2}$, because $\ce{N2}$ contains a triple bond : there are three covalences between the two atoms. That is why $\ce{N2}$ is nearly inert. A huge amount of energy is needed to break these three bonds. And it is usually impossible to do it in a lab at ordinary temperatures. Some plants (beans, peas) are able to do it and to metabolize $\ce{N2}$ by a somewhat mysterious process.

  • $\begingroup$ Ah ok so the first point refers to the atom $N$, and the second point refers to the molecule $N_2$. Got this XD Thank you so much! $\endgroup$
    – across
    Sep 10, 2020 at 19:15
  • $\begingroup$ For chemical vapor deposition techniques one usually uses ammonia as a nitrogen source. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Sep 10, 2020 at 22:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Maurice Inert relates with kinetics. Why bond energy which is a thermodynamic factor relates with kinetics? $\endgroup$
    – Anton
    Apr 5, 2021 at 11:51

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