Can I convert nitrogen to $\ce{N2O}$, to conduct barking dog reaction, where it's needed as oxidizer?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ In short: no, you can't. Molecular nitrogen is insanely hard to convert to anything. $\endgroup$ Apr 20 '16 at 17:00
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ 'Just' run an oxygen-nitrogen plasma, accelerate the ionized species, mass separate for $N_{2}O$ and voila... So, yes, you can but whether it is useful or not is a different question. As @IvanNeretin suggests, starting with $N_{2}$ is typically a bad (hard) thing to do. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 20 '16 at 17:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That reaction seems like something I would avoid, too. $\endgroup$ Apr 20 '16 at 17:56
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ A more well-known way of making $\ce{N2O}$ is the thermal decomposition of ammonium nitrate: $\ce{NH4NO3 -> N2O + 2H2O}$. $\endgroup$
    – orthocresol
    Apr 20 '16 at 22:49

There are several ways to fairly safely make $\ce{N2O}$ in the laboratory that don't involve the difficulties associated with trying to react molecular nitrogen. The following reactions all are mentioned in this Wikipedia article which I suggest reading, along with the references. Depending on the quantity you are making, I'd be very cautious about using the thermal decomposition of ammonium nitrate as this can kind of blow up on you (literally). Of course every reaction has it's own risks and it's up to you to decide what you are most comfortable with.

I think the direct oxidation of ammonia over a manganese dioxide-bismuth oxide catalystis an intriguing method$\mathrm{^{(1)}}$

$$\ce{2 NH3 + 2O2 -> N2O + 3 H2O}$$

This also seems like a fairly straight-forward route:

$$\ce{2 HNO3 + 8 HCl + 4 SnCl2 → 5 H2O + 4 SnCl4 + N2O}$$

And this seems to me a bit of a more complex synthyses:

$$\ce{2 (NH2)2CO + 2 HNO3 + H2SO4 → 2 N2O + 2 CO2 + (NH4)2SO4 + 2H2O}$$

Again, I'll say molecular nitrogen makes a lousy starting material for most syntheses, including $\ce{N2O}$.

1) Suwa T, Matsushima A, Suziki Y, Namina Y (1961). "Synthesis of Nitrous Oxide by Oxidation of Ammonia". Kohyo Kagaku Zasshi, Showa Denka Ltd. 64: 1879–1888.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.