# Oxygen

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Oxygen,  8O
Liquid oxygen boiling
Oxygen
Allotropes O2, O3 (Ozone)
Appearancegas: colorless
liquid and solid: pale blue
Standard atomic weight Ar, std(O)[15.99903, 15.99977]conventional: 15.999
Oxygen in the periodic table
 Hydrogen Helium Lithium Beryllium Boron Carbon Nitrogen Oxygen Fluorine Neon Sodium Magnesium Aluminium Silicon Phosphorus Sulfur Chlorine Argon Potassium Calcium Scandium Titanium Vanadium Chromium Manganese Iron Cobalt Nickel Copper Zinc Gallium Germanium Arsenic Selenium Bromine Krypton Rubidium Strontium Yttrium Zirconium Niobium Molybdenum Technetium Ruthenium Rhodium Palladium Silver Cadmium Indium Tin Antimony Tellurium Iodine Xenon Caesium Barium Lanthanum Cerium Praseodymium Neodymium Promethium Samarium Europium Gadolinium Terbium Dysprosium Holmium Erbium Thulium Ytterbium Lutetium Hafnium Tantalum Tungsten Rhenium Osmium Iridium Platinum Gold Mercury (element) Thallium Lead Bismuth Polonium Astatine Radon Francium Radium Actinium Thorium Protactinium Uranium Neptunium Plutonium Americium Curium Berkelium Californium Einsteinium Fermium Mendelevium Nobelium Lawrencium Rutherfordium Dubnium Seaborgium Bohrium Hassium Meitnerium Darmstadtium Roentgenium Copernicium Nihonium Flerovium Moscovium Livermorium Tennessine Oganesson

O

S
nitrogenoxygenfluorine
8
Group
Period period 2
Block p-block
Element category   Reactive nonmetal
Electron configuration [ He ] 2s2 2p4
Electrons per shell
2, 6
Physical properties
Phase at  gas
Melting point (O2) 54.36  K (−218.79 °C,−361.82 °F)
Boiling point (O2) 90.188 K(−182.962 °C,−297.332 °F)
Density (at STP)1.429 g/L
when liquid (at b.p.)1.141 g/cm3
Triple point 54.361 K,0.1463 kPa
Critical point 154.581 K, 5.043 MPa
Heat of fusion (O2) 0.444  kJ/mol
Heat of vaporization (O2) 6.82 kJ/mol
Molar heat capacity (O2) 29.378 J/(mol·K)
Vapor pressure
P (Pa)1101001 k10 k100 k
at T (K)   617390
Atomic properties
Oxidation states −2, −1, 0, +1, +2
Electronegativity Pauling scale: 3.44
Ionization energies
• 1st: 1313.9 kJ/mol
• 2nd: 3388.3 kJ/mol
• 3rd: 5300.5 kJ/mol
• (more)
Van der Waals radius 152 pm
Spectral lines of oxygen
Other properties
Natural occurrence primordial
Crystal structure cubic
Speed of sound 330 m/s (gas, at 27 °C)
Thermal conductivity 26.58×10−3  W/(m·K)
Magnetic ordering paramagnetic
Magnetic susceptibility +3449.0·10−6 cm3/mol(293 K) [1]
CAS Number 7782-44-7
History
Discovery Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1771)
Named by Antoine Lavoisier (1777)
Main isotopes of oxygen
Iso­tope Abun­dance Half-life (t1/2) Decay mode Pro­duct
16O 99.76% stable
17O 0.04%stable
18O 0.20%stable
| references

Oxygen is the chemical element with the symbol  O and atomic number 8. It is a member of the chalcogen group in the periodic table, a highly reactive nonmetal, and an oxidizing agent that readily forms oxides with most elements as well as with other compounds. By mass, oxygen is the third-most abundant element in the universe, after hydrogen and helium. At standard temperature and pressure, two atoms of the element bind to form dioxygen, a colorless and odorless diatomic gas with the formula O
2
. Diatomic oxygen gas constitutes 20.8% of the Earth's atmosphere. As compounds including oxides, the element makes up almost half of the Earth's crust.

A chemical element is a species of atom having the same number of protons in their atomic nuclei. For example, the atomic number of oxygen is 8, so the element oxygen consists of all atoms which have 8 protons.

In chemistry, a symbol is an abbreviation for a chemical element. Symbols for chemical elements normally consist of one or two letters from the Latin alphabet and are written with the first letter capitalised.

The atomic number or proton number of a chemical element is the number of protons found in the nucleus of every atom of that element. The atomic number uniquely identifies a chemical element. It is identical to the charge number of the nucleus. In an uncharged atom, the atomic number is also equal to the number of electrons.

## Contents

Dioxygen is used in cellular respiration and many major classes of organic molecules in living organisms contain oxygen, such as proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and fats, as do the major constituent inorganic compounds of animal shells, teeth, and bone. Most of the mass of living organisms is oxygen as a component of water, the major constituent of lifeforms. Oxygen is continuously replenished in Earth's atmosphere by photosynthesis, which uses the energy of sunlight to produce oxygen from water and carbon dioxide. Oxygen is too chemically reactive to remain a free element in air without being continuously replenished by the photosynthetic action of living organisms. Another form (allotrope) of oxygen, ozone (O
3
), strongly absorbs ultraviolet UVB radiation and the high-altitude ozone layer helps protect the biosphere from ultraviolet radiation. However, ozone present at the surface is a byproduct of smog and thus a pollutant.

Cellular respiration is a set of metabolic reactions and processes that take place in the cells of organisms to convert biochemical energy from nutrients into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and then release waste products. The reactions involved in respiration are catabolic reactions, which break large molecules into smaller ones, releasing energy in the process, as weak so-called "high-energy" bonds are replaced by stronger bonds in the products. Respiration is one of the key ways a cell releases chemical energy to fuel cellular activity. Cellular respiration is considered an exothermic redox reaction which releases heat. The overall reaction occurs in a series of biochemical steps, most of which are redox reactions themselves. Although cellular respiration is technically a combustion reaction, it clearly does not resemble one when it occurs in a living cell because of the slow release of energy from the series of reactions.

Proteins are large biomolecules, or macromolecules, consisting of one or more long chains of amino acid residues. Proteins perform a vast array of functions within organisms, including catalysing metabolic reactions, DNA replication, responding to stimuli, providing structure to cells, and organisms, and transporting molecules from one location to another. Proteins differ from one another primarily in their sequence of amino acids, which is dictated by the nucleotide sequence of their genes, and which usually results in protein folding into a specific three-dimensional structure that determines its activity.

Nucleic acids are the biopolymers, or small biomolecules, essential to all known forms of life. The term nucleic acid is the overall name for DNA and RNA. They are composed of nucleotides, which are the monomers made of three components: a 5-carbon sugar, a phosphate group and a nitrogenous base. If the sugar is a compound ribose, the polymer is RNA ; if the sugar is derived from ribose as deoxyribose, the polymer is DNA.

Oxygen was isolated by Michael Sendivogius before 1604, but it is commonly believed that the element was discovered independently by Carl Wilhelm Scheele, in Uppsala, in 1773 or earlier, and Joseph Priestley in Wiltshire, in 1774. Priority is often given for Priestley because his work was published first. Priestley, however, called oxygen "dephlogisticated air", and did not recognize it as a chemical element. The name oxygen was coined in 1777 by Antoine Lavoisier, who first recognized oxygen as a chemical element and correctly characterized the role it plays in combustion.

Michael Sendivogius was a Polish alchemist, philosopher, and medical doctor. A pioneer of chemistry, he developed ways of purification and creation of various acids, metals and other chemical compounds. He discovered that air is not a single substance and contains a life-giving substance—later called oxygen—170 years before Scheele's discovery of the element. He correctly identified this 'food of life' with the gas given off by heating nitre (saltpetre). This substance, the 'central nitre', had a central position in Sendivogius' schema of the universe.

Carl Wilhelm Scheele was a Swedish Pomeranian and German pharmaceutical chemist. Isaac Asimov called him "hard-luck Scheele" because he made a number of chemical discoveries before others who are generally given the credit. For example, Scheele discovered oxygen, and identified molybdenum, tungsten, barium, hydrogen, and chlorine before Humphry Davy, among others. Scheele discovered organic acids tartaric, oxalic, uric, lactic, and citric, as well as hydrofluoric, hydrocyanic, and arsenic acids. He preferred speaking German to Swedish his whole life, as German was commonly spoken among Swedish pharmacists.

Uppsala is the capital of Uppsala County and the fourth-largest city in Sweden, after Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö. It had 168,096 inhabitants in 2017.

Common uses of oxygen include production of steel, plastics and textiles, brazing, welding and cutting of steels and other metals, rocket propellant, oxygen therapy, and life support systems in aircraft, submarines, spaceflight and diving.

Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon, and sometimes other elements. Because of its high tensile strength and low cost, it is a major component used in buildings, infrastructure, tools, ships, automobiles, machines, appliances, and weapons.

Oxy-fuel welding and oxy-fuel cutting are processes that use fuel gases and oxygen to weld or cut metals. French engineers Edmond Fouché and Charles Picard became the first to develop oxygen-acetylene welding in 1903. Pure oxygen, instead of air, is used to increase the flame temperature to allow localized melting of the workpiece material in a room environment. A common propane/air flame burns at about 2,250 K, a propane/oxygen flame burns at about 2,526 K, an oxyhydrogen flame burns at 3,073 K and an acetylene/oxygen flame burns at about 3,773 K.

Rocket propellant is the reaction mass of a rocket. This reaction mass is ejected at the highest achievable velocity from a rocket engine to produce thrust. The energy required can either come from the propellants themselves, as with a chemical rocket, or from an external source, as with ion engines.

## History

### Early experiments

One of the first known experiments on the relationship between combustion and air was conducted by the 2nd century BCE Greek writer on mechanics, Philo of Byzantium. In his work Pneumatica, Philo observed that inverting a vessel over a burning candle and surrounding the vessel's neck with water resulted in some water rising into the neck. [2] Philo incorrectly surmised that parts of the air in the vessel were converted into the classical element fire and thus were able to escape through pores in the glass. Many centuries later Leonardo da Vinci built on Philo's work by observing that a portion of air is consumed during combustion and respiration. [3]

Combustion, or burning, is a high-temperature exothermic redox chemical reaction between a fuel and an oxidant, usually atmospheric oxygen, that produces oxidized, often gaseous products, in a mixture termed as smoke. Combustion in a fire produces a flame, and the heat produced can make combustion self-sustaining. Combustion is often a complicated sequence of elementary radical reactions. Solid fuels, such as wood and coal, first undergo endothermic pyrolysis to produce gaseous fuels whose combustion then supplies the heat required to produce more of them. Combustion is often hot enough that incandescent light in the form of either glowing or a flame is produced. A simple example can be seen in the combustion of hydrogen and oxygen into water vapor, a reaction commonly used to fuel rocket engines. This reaction releases 242 kJ/mol of heat and reduces the enthalpy accordingly :

Ancient Greece was a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Roughly three centuries after the Late Bronze Age collapse of Mycenaean Greece, Greek urban poleis began to form in the 8th century BC, ushering in the Archaic period and colonization of the Mediterranean Basin. This was followed by the period of Classical Greece, an era that began with the Greco-Persian Wars, lasting from the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Due to the conquests by Alexander the Great of Macedon, Hellenistic civilization flourished from Central Asia to the western end of the Mediterranean Sea. The Hellenistic period came to an end with the conquests and annexations of the eastern Mediterranean world by the Roman Republic, which established the Roman province of Macedonia in Roman Greece, and later the province of Achaea during the Roman Empire.

Philo of Byzantium, also known as Philo Mechanicus, was a Greek engineer, physicist and writer on mechanics, who lived during the latter half of the 3rd century BC. Although he was from Byzantium he lived most of his life in Alexandria, Egypt. He was probably younger than Ctesibius, though some place him a century earlier.

In the late 17th century, Robert Boyle proved that air is necessary for combustion. English chemist John Mayow (1641–1679) refined this work by showing that fire requires only a part of air that he called spiritus nitroaereus. [4] In one experiment, he found that placing either a mouse or a lit candle in a closed container over water caused the water to rise and replace one-fourteenth of the air's volume before extinguishing the subjects. [5] From this he surmised that nitroaereus is consumed in both respiration and combustion.

Robert Boyle was an Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor. Boyle is largely regarded today as the first modern chemist, and therefore one of the founders of modern chemistry, and one of the pioneers of modern experimental scientific method. He is best known for Boyle's law, which describes the inversely proportional relationship between the absolute pressure and volume of a gas, if the temperature is kept constant within a closed system. Among his works, The Sceptical Chymist is seen as a cornerstone book in the field of chemistry. He was a devout and pious Anglican and is noted for his writings in theology.

John Mayow FRS (1641–1679) was a chemist, physician, and physiologist who is remembered today for conducting early research into respiration and the nature of air. Mayow worked in a field that is sometimes called pneumatic chemistry.

Mayow observed that antimony increased in weight when heated, and inferred that the nitroaereus must have combined with it. [4] He also thought that the lungs separate nitroaereus from air and pass it into the blood and that animal heat and muscle movement result from the reaction of nitroaereus with certain substances in the body. [4] Accounts of these and other experiments and ideas were published in 1668 in his work Tractatus duo in the tract "De respiratione". [5]

### Phlogiston theory

Robert Hooke, Ole Borch, Mikhail Lomonosov, and Pierre Bayen all produced oxygen in experiments in the 17th and the 18th century but none of them recognized it as a chemical element. [6] This may have been in part due to the prevalence of the philosophy of combustion and corrosion called the phlogiston theory, which was then the favored explanation of those processes. [7]

Established in 1667 by the German alchemist J. J. Becher, and modified by the chemist Georg Ernst Stahl by 1731, [8] phlogiston theory stated that all combustible materials were made of two parts. One part, called phlogiston, was given off when the substance containing it was burned, while the dephlogisticated part was thought to be its true form, or calx. [3]

Highly combustible materials that leave little residue, such as wood or coal, were thought to be made mostly of phlogiston; non-combustible substances that corrode, such as iron, contained very little. Air did not play a role in phlogiston theory, nor were any initial quantitative experiments conducted to test the idea; instead, it was based on observations of what happens when something burns, that most common objects appear to become lighter and seem to lose something in the process. [3]

### Discovery

Polish alchemist, philosopher, and physician Michael Sendivogius in his work De Lapide Philosophorum Tractatus duodecim e naturae fonte et manuali experientia depromti (1604) described a substance contained in air, referring to it as 'cibus vitae' (food of life [9] ), and this substance is identical with oxygen. [10] Sendivogius, during his experiments performed between 1598 and 1604, properly recognized that the substance is equivalent to the gaseous byproduct released by the thermal decomposition of potassium nitrate. In Bugaj's view, the isolation of oxygen and the proper association of the substance to that part of air which is required for life, lends sufficient weight to the discovery of oxygen by Sendivogius. [10] This discovery of Sendivogius was however frequently denied by the generations of scientists and chemists which succeeded him. [9]

It is also commonly claimed that oxygen was first discovered by Swedish pharmacist Carl Wilhelm Scheele. He had produced oxygen gas by heating mercuric oxide and various nitrates in 1771–2. [11] [12] [3] Scheele called the gas "fire air" because it was then the only known agent to support combustion. He wrote an account of this discovery in a manuscript titled Treatise on Air and Fire, which he sent to his publisher in 1775. That document was published in 1777. [13]

In the meantime, on August 1, 1774, an experiment conducted by the British clergyman Joseph Priestley focused sunlight on mercuric oxide (HgO) contained in a glass tube, which liberated a gas he named "dephlogisticated air". [12] He noted that candles burned brighter in the gas and that a mouse was more active and lived longer while breathing it. After breathing the gas himself, Priestley wrote: "The feeling of it to my lungs was not sensibly different from that of common air, but I fancied that my breast felt peculiarly light and easy for some time afterwards." [6] Priestley published his findings in 1775 in a paper titled "An Account of Further Discoveries in Air", which was included in the second volume of his book titled Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air . [3] [14] Because he published his findings first, Priestley is usually given priority in the discovery.

The French chemist Antoine Laurent Lavoisier later claimed to have discovered the new substance independently. Priestley visited Lavoisier in October 1774 and told him about his experiment and how he liberated the new gas. Scheele had also dispatched a letter to Lavoisier on September 30, 1774, which described his discovery of the previously unknown substance, but Lavoisier never acknowledged receiving it. (A copy of the letter was found in Scheele's belongings after his death.) [13]

### Lavoisier's contribution

Lavoisier conducted the first adequate quantitative experiments on oxidation and gave the first correct explanation of how combustion works. [12] He used these and similar experiments, all started in 1774, to discredit the phlogiston theory and to prove that the substance discovered by Priestley and Scheele was a chemical element.

In one experiment, Lavoisier observed that there was no overall increase in weight when tin and air were heated in a closed container. [12] He noted that air rushed in when he opened the container, which indicated that part of the trapped air had been consumed. He also noted that the tin had increased in weight and that increase was the same as the weight of the air that rushed back in. This and other experiments on combustion were documented in his book Sur la combustion en général, which was published in 1777. [12] In that work, he proved that air is a mixture of two gases; 'vital air', which is essential to combustion and respiration, and azote (Gk. ἄζωτον "lifeless"), which did not support either. Azote later became nitrogen in English, although it has kept the earlier name in French and several other European languages. [12]

Lavoisier renamed 'vital air' to oxygène in 1777 from the Greek roots ὀξύς (oxys) (acid, literally "sharp", from the taste of acids) and -γενής (-genēs) (producer, literally begetter), because he mistakenly believed that oxygen was a constituent of all acids. [15] Chemists (such as Sir Humphry Davy in 1812) eventually determined that Lavoisier was wrong in this regard (hydrogen forms the basis for acid chemistry), but by then the name was too well established. [16]

Oxygen entered the English language despite opposition by English scientists and the fact that the Englishman Priestley had first isolated the gas and written about it. This is partly due to a poem praising the gas titled "Oxygen" in the popular book The Botanic Garden (1791) by Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin. [13]

### Later history

John Dalton's original atomic hypothesis presumed that all elements were monatomic and that the atoms in compounds would normally have the simplest atomic ratios with respect to one another. For example, Dalton assumed that water's formula was HO, leading to the conclusion that the atomic mass of oxygen was 8 times that of hydrogen, instead of the modern value of about 16. [17] In 1805, Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac and Alexander von Humboldt showed that water is formed of two volumes of hydrogen and one volume of oxygen; and by 1811 Amedeo Avogadro had arrived at the correct interpretation of water's composition, based on what is now called Avogadro's law and the diatomic elemental molecules in those gases. [18] [lower-alpha 1]

By the late 19th century scientists realized that air could be liquefied and its components isolated by compressing and cooling it. Using a cascade method, Swiss chemist and physicist Raoul Pierre Pictet evaporated liquid sulfur dioxide in order to liquefy carbon dioxide, which in turn was evaporated to cool oxygen gas enough to liquefy it. He sent a telegram on December 22, 1877 to the French Academy of Sciences in Paris announcing his discovery of liquid oxygen. [19] Just two days later, French physicist Louis Paul Cailletet announced his own method of liquefying molecular oxygen. [19] Only a few drops of the liquid were produced in each case and no meaningful analysis could be conducted. Oxygen was liquefied in a stable state for the first time on March 29, 1883 by Polish scientists from Jagiellonian University, Zygmunt Wróblewski and Karol Olszewski. [20]

In 1891 Scottish chemist James Dewar was able to produce enough liquid oxygen for study. [21] The first commercially viable process for producing liquid oxygen was independently developed in 1895 by German engineer Carl von Linde and British engineer William Hampson. Both men lowered the temperature of air until it liquefied and then distilled the component gases by boiling them off one at a time and capturing them separately. [22] Later, in 1901, oxyacetylene welding was demonstrated for the first time by burning a mixture of acetylene and compressed O
2
. This method of welding and cutting metal later became common. [22]

In 1923, the American scientist Robert H. Goddard became the first person to develop a rocket engine that burned liquid fuel; the engine used gasoline for fuel and liquid oxygen as the oxidizer. Goddard successfully flew a small liquid-fueled rocket 56 m at 97 km/h on March 16, 1926 in Auburn, Massachusetts, US. [22] [23]

Oxygen levels in the atmosphere are trending slightly downward globally, possibly because of fossil-fuel burning. [24]

## Characteristics

### Properties and molecular structure

At standard temperature and pressure, oxygen is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas with the molecular formula O
2
, referred to as dioxygen. [26]

As dioxygen, two oxygen atoms are chemically bound to each other. The bond can be variously described based on level of theory, but is reasonably and simply described as a covalent double bond that results from the filling of molecular orbitals formed from the atomic orbitals of the individual oxygen atoms, the filling of which results in a bond order of two. More specifically, the double bond is the result of sequential, low-to-high energy, or Aufbau, filling of orbitals, and the resulting cancellation of contributions from the 2s electrons, after sequential filling of the low σ and σ* orbitals; σ overlap of the two atomic 2p orbitals that lie along the O-O molecular axis and π overlap of two pairs of atomic 2p orbitals perpendicular to the O-O molecular axis, and then cancellation of contributions from the remaining two of the six 2p electrons after their partial filling of the lowest π and π* orbitals. [25]

This combination of cancellations and σ and π overlaps results in dioxygen's double bond character and reactivity, and a triplet electronic ground state. An electron configuration with two unpaired electrons, as is found in dioxygen orbitals (see the filled π* orbitals in the diagram) that are of equal energy—i.e., degenerate—is a configuration termed a spin triplet state. Hence, the ground state of the O
2
molecule is referred to as triplet oxygen. [27] [lower-alpha 2] The highest energy, partially filled orbitals are antibonding, and so their filling weakens the bond order from three to two. Because of its unpaired electrons, triplet oxygen reacts only slowly with most organic molecules, which have paired electron spins; this prevents spontaneous combustion. [28]

In the triplet form, O
2
molecules are paramagnetic. That is, they impart magnetic character to oxygen when it is in the presence of a magnetic field, because of the spin magnetic moments of the unpaired electrons in the molecule, and the negative exchange energy between neighboring O
2
molecules. [21] Liquid oxygen is so magnetic that, in laboratory demonstrations, a bridge of liquid oxygen may be supported against its own weight between the poles of a powerful magnet. [29] [lower-alpha 3]

Singlet oxygen is a name given to several higher-energy species of molecular O
2
in which all the electron spins are paired. It is much more reactive with common organic molecules than is molecular oxygen per se. In nature, singlet oxygen is commonly formed from water during photosynthesis, using the energy of sunlight. [30] It is also produced in the troposphere by the photolysis of ozone by light of short wavelength, [31] and by the immune system as a source of active oxygen. [32] Carotenoids in photosynthetic organisms (and possibly animals) play a major role in absorbing energy from singlet oxygen and converting it to the unexcited ground state before it can cause harm to tissues. [33]

### Allotropes

The common allotrope of elemental oxygen on Earth is called dioxygen, O
2
, the major part of the Earth's atmospheric oxygen (see Occurrence). O2 has a bond length of 121  pm and a bond energy of 498  kJ/mol, [34] which is smaller than the energy of other double bonds or pairs of single bonds in the biosphere and responsible for the exothermic reaction of O2 with any organic molecule. [28] [35] Due to its energy content, O2 is used by complex forms of life, such as animals, in cellular respiration. Other aspects of O
2

Trioxygen (O
3
) is usually known as ozone and is a very reactive allotrope of oxygen that is damaging to lung tissue. [36] Ozone is produced in the upper atmosphere when O
2
combines with atomic oxygen made by the splitting of O
2
by ultraviolet (UV) radiation. [15] Since ozone absorbs strongly in the UV region of the spectrum, the ozone layer of the upper atmosphere functions as a protective radiation shield for the planet. [15] Near the Earth's surface, it is a pollutant formed as a by-product of automobile exhaust. [36] At low earth orbit altitudes, sufficient atomic oxygen is present to cause corrosion of spacecraft. [37]

The metastable molecule tetraoxygen (O
4
) was discovered in 2001, [38] [39] and was assumed to exist in one of the six phases of solid oxygen. It was proven in 2006 that this phase, created by pressurizing O
2
to 20  GPa, is in fact a rhombohedral O
8
cluster. [40] This cluster has the potential to be a much more powerful oxidizer than either O
2
or O
3
and may therefore be used in rocket fuel. [38] [39] A metallic phase was discovered in 1990 when solid oxygen is subjected to a pressure of above 96 GPa [41] and it was shown in 1998 that at very low temperatures, this phase becomes superconducting. [42]

### Physical properties

Oxygen dissolves more readily in water than nitrogen, and in freshwater more readily than seawater. Water in equilibrium with air contains approximately 1 molecule of dissolved O
2
for every 2 molecules of N
2
(1:2), compared with an atmospheric ratio of approximately 1:4. The solubility of oxygen in water is temperature-dependent, and about twice as much (14.6 mg·L−1) dissolves at 0 °C than at 20 °C (7.6 mg·L−1). [6] [43] At 25 °C and 1 standard atmosphere (101.3  kPa ) of air, freshwater contains about 6.04  milliliters  (mL) of oxygen per liter, and seawater contains about 4.95 mL per liter. [44] At 5 °C the solubility increases to 9.0 mL (50% more than at 25 °C) per liter for water and 7.2 mL (45% more) per liter for sea water.

Oxygen gas dissolved in water at sea-level
5 °C25 °C
Freshwater9.0 mL6.04 mL
Seawater7.2 mL4.95 mL

Oxygen condenses at 90.20  K (−182.95 °C, −297.31 °F), and freezes at 54.36 K (−218.79 °C, −361.82 °F). [45] Both liquid and solid O
2
are clear substances with a light sky-blue color caused by absorption in the red (in contrast with the blue color of the sky, which is due to Rayleigh scattering of blue light). High-purity liquid O
2
is usually obtained by the fractional distillation of liquefied air. [46] Liquid oxygen may also be condensed from air using liquid nitrogen as a coolant. [47]

Oxygen is a highly reactive substance and must be segregated from combustible materials. [47]

The spectroscopy of molecular oxygen is associated with the atmospheric processes of aurora and airglow. [48] The absorption in the Herzberg continuum and Schumann–Runge bands in the ultraviolet produces atomic oxygen that is important in the chemistry of the middle atmosphere. [49] Excited state singlet molecular oxygen is responsible for red chemiluminescence in solution. [50]

### Isotopes and stellar origin

Naturally occurring oxygen is composed of three stable isotopes, 16O, 17O, and 18O, with 16O being the most abundant (99.762% natural abundance). [51]

Most 16O is synthesized at the end of the helium fusion process in massive stars but some is made in the neon burning process. [52] 17O is primarily made by the burning of hydrogen into helium during the CNO cycle, making it a common isotope in the hydrogen burning zones of stars. [52] Most 18O is produced when 14N (made abundant from CNO burning) captures a 4He nucleus, making 18O common in the helium-rich zones of evolved, massive stars. [52]

Fourteen radioisotopes have been characterized. The most stable are 15O with a half-life of 122.24 seconds and 14O with a half-life of 70.606 seconds. [51] All of the remaining radioactive isotopes have half-lives that are less than 27 s and the majority of these have half-lives that are less than 83 milliseconds. [51] The most common decay mode of the isotopes lighter than 16O is β+ decay [53] [54] [55] to yield nitrogen, and the most common mode for the isotopes heavier than 18O is beta decay to yield fluorine. [51]

### Occurrence

Ten most common elements in the Milky Way Galaxy estimated spectroscopically [56]
Z ElementMass fraction in parts per million
1 Hydrogen 739,00071 × mass of oxygen (red bar)
2 Helium 240,00023 × mass of oxygen (red bar)
8Oxygen10,400

6 Carbon 4,600

10 Neon 1,340

26 Iron 1,090

7 Nitrogen 960

14 Silicon 650

12 Magnesium 580

16 Sulfur 440

Oxygen is the most abundant chemical element by mass in the Earth's biosphere, air, sea and land. Oxygen is the third most abundant chemical element in the universe, after hydrogen and helium. [57] About 0.9% of the Sun's mass is oxygen. [12] Oxygen constitutes 49.2% of the Earth's crust by mass [58] as part of oxide compounds such as silicon dioxide and is the most abundant element by mass in the Earth's crust. It is also the major component of the world's oceans (88.8% by mass). [12] Oxygen gas is the second most common component of the Earth's atmosphere, taking up 20.8% of its volume and 23.1% of its mass (some 1015 tonnes). [12] [59] [lower-alpha 4] Earth is unusual among the planets of the Solar System in having such a high concentration of oxygen gas in its atmosphere: Mars (with 0.1% O
2
by volume) and Venus have much less. The O
2
surrounding those planets is produced solely by the action of ultraviolet radiation on oxygen-containing molecules such as carbon dioxide.

The unusually high concentration of oxygen gas on Earth is the result of the oxygen cycle. This biogeochemical cycle describes the movement of oxygen within and between its three main reservoirs on Earth: the atmosphere, the biosphere, and the lithosphere. The main driving factor of the oxygen cycle is photosynthesis, which is responsible for modern Earth's atmosphere. Photosynthesis releases oxygen into the atmosphere, while respiration, decay, and combustion remove it from the atmosphere. In the present equilibrium, production and consumption occur at the same rate. [60]

Free oxygen also occurs in solution in the world's water bodies. The increased solubility of O
2
at lower temperatures (see Physical properties) has important implications for ocean life, as polar oceans support a much higher density of life due to their higher oxygen content. [61] Water polluted with plant nutrients such as nitrates or phosphates may stimulate growth of algae by a process called eutrophication and the decay of these organisms and other biomaterials may reduce the O
2
content in eutrophic water bodies. Scientists assess this aspect of water quality by measuring the water's biochemical oxygen demand, or the amount of O
2
needed to restore it to a normal concentration. [62]

### Analysis

Paleoclimatologists measure the ratio of oxygen-18 and oxygen-16 in the shells and skeletons of marine organisms to determine the climate millions of years ago (see oxygen isotope ratio cycle). Seawater molecules that contain the lighter isotope, oxygen-16, evaporate at a slightly faster rate than water molecules containing the 12% heavier oxygen-18, and this disparity increases at lower temperatures. [63] During periods of lower global temperatures, snow and rain from that evaporated water tends to be higher in oxygen-16, and the seawater left behind tends to be higher in oxygen-18. Marine organisms then incorporate more oxygen-18 into their skeletons and shells than they would in a warmer climate. [63] Paleoclimatologists also directly measure this ratio in the water molecules of ice core samples as old as hundreds of thousands of years.

Planetary geologists have measured the relative quantities of oxygen isotopes in samples from the Earth, the Moon, Mars, and meteorites, but were long unable to obtain reference values for the isotope ratios in the Sun, believed to be the same as those of the primordial solar nebula. Analysis of a silicon wafer exposed to the solar wind in space and returned by the crashed Genesis spacecraft has shown that the Sun has a higher proportion of oxygen-16 than does the Earth. The measurement implies that an unknown process depleted oxygen-16 from the Sun's disk of protoplanetary material prior to the coalescence of dust grains that formed the Earth. [64]

Oxygen presents two spectrophotometric absorption bands peaking at the wavelengths 687 and 760  nm. Some remote sensing scientists have proposed using the measurement of the radiance coming from vegetation canopies in those bands to characterize plant health status from a satellite platform. [65] This approach exploits the fact that in those bands it is possible to discriminate the vegetation's reflectance from its fluorescence, which is much weaker. The measurement is technically difficult owing to the low signal-to-noise ratio and the physical structure of vegetation; but it has been proposed as a possible method of monitoring the carbon cycle from satellites on a global scale.

## Biological role of O2

### Photosynthesis and respiration

In nature, free oxygen is produced by the light-driven splitting of water during oxygenic photosynthesis. According to some estimates, green algae and cyanobacteria in marine environments provide about 70% of the free oxygen produced on Earth, and the rest is produced by terrestrial plants. [66] Other estimates of the oceanic contribution to atmospheric oxygen are higher, while some estimates are lower, suggesting oceans produce ~45% of Earth's atmospheric oxygen each year. [67]

A simplified overall formula for photosynthesis is: [68]

6 CO
2
+ 6 H
2
O
+ photonsC
6
H
12
O
6
+ 6 O
2

or simply

carbon dioxide + water + sunlight → glucose + dioxygen

Photolytic oxygen evolution occurs in the thylakoid membranes of photosynthetic organisms and requires the energy of four photons. [lower-alpha 5] Many steps are involved, but the result is the formation of a proton gradient across the thylakoid membrane, which is used to synthesize adenosine triphosphate (ATP) via photophosphorylation. [69] The O
2
remaining (after production of the water molecule) is released into the atmosphere. [lower-alpha 6]

Oxygen is used in mitochondria to generate ATP during oxidative phosphorylation. The reaction for aerobic respiration is essentially the reverse of photosynthesis and is simplified as:

C
6
H
12
O
6
+ 6 O
2
→ 6 CO
2
+ 6 H
2
O
+ 2880 kJ/mol

In vertebrates, O
2
diffuses through membranes in the lungs and into red blood cells. Hemoglobin binds O
2
, changing color from bluish red to bright red [36] (CO
2
is released from another part of hemoglobin through the Bohr effect). Other animals use hemocyanin (molluscs and some arthropods) or hemerythrin (spiders and lobsters). [59] A liter of blood can dissolve 200 cm3 of O
2
. [59]

Until the discovery of anaerobic metazoa, [70] oxygen was thought to be a requirement for all complex life. [71]

Reactive oxygen species, such as superoxide ion (O
2
) and hydrogen peroxide (H
2
O
2
), are reactive by-products of oxygen use in organisms. [59] Parts of the immune system of higher organisms create peroxide, superoxide, and singlet oxygen to destroy invading microbes. Reactive oxygen species also play an important role in the hypersensitive response of plants against pathogen attack. [69] Oxygen is damaging to obligately anaerobic organisms, which were the dominant form of early life on Earth until O
2
began to accumulate in the atmosphere about 2.5 billion years ago during the Great Oxygenation Event, about a billion years after the first appearance of these organisms. [72] [73]

An adult human at rest inhales 1.8 to 2.4 grams of oxygen per minute. [74] This amounts to more than 6 billion tonnes of oxygen inhaled by humanity per year. [lower-alpha 7]

### Living organisms

Partial pressures of oxygen in the human body (PO2)
UnitAlveolar pulmonary
gas pressures
Arterial blood oxygen Venous blood gas
kPa 14.211 [75] -13 [75] 4.0 [75] -5.3 [75]
mmHg 10775 [76] -100 [76] 30 [77] -40 [77]

The free oxygen partial pressure in the body of a living vertebrate organism is highest in the respiratory system, and decreases along any arterial system, peripheral tissues, and venous system, respectively. Partial pressure is the pressure that oxygen would have if it alone occupied the volume. [78]

### Build-up in the atmosphere

Free oxygen gas was almost nonexistent in Earth's atmosphere before photosynthetic archaea and bacteria evolved, probably about 3.5 billion years ago. Free oxygen first appeared in significant quantities during the Paleoproterozoic eon (between 3.0 and 2.3 billion years ago). [79] Even if there was much dissolved iron in the oceans when oxygenic photosynthesis was getting more common, it appears the banded iron formations were created by anoxyenic or micro-aerophilic iron-oxidizing bacteria which dominated the deeper areas of the photic zone, while oxygen-producing cyanobacteria covered the shallows. [80] Free oxygen began to outgas from the oceans 3–2.7 billion years ago, reaching 10% of its present level around 1.7 billion years ago. [79] [81]

The presence of large amounts of dissolved and free oxygen in the oceans and atmosphere may have driven most of the extant anaerobic organisms to extinction during the Great Oxygenation Event (oxygen catastrophe) about 2.4 billion years ago. Cellular respiration using O
2
enables aerobic organisms to produce much more ATP than anaerobic organisms. [82] Cellular respiration of O
2
occurs in all eukaryotes, including all complex multicellular organisms such as plants and animals.

Since the beginning of the Cambrian period 540 million years ago, atmospheric O
2
levels have fluctuated between 15% and 30% by volume. [83] Towards the end of the Carboniferous period (about 300 million years ago) atmospheric O
2
levels reached a maximum of 35% by volume, [83] which may have contributed to the large size of insects and amphibians at this time. [84]

Variations in atmospheric oxygen concentration have shaped past climates. When oxygen declined, atmospheric density dropped, which in turn increased surface evaporation, causing precipitation increases and warmer temperatures. [85]

At the current rate of photosynthesis it would take about 2,000 years to regenerate the entire O
2
in the present atmosphere. [86]

## Industrial production

One hundred million tonnes of O
2
are extracted from air for industrial uses annually by two primary methods. [13] The most common method is fractional distillation of liquefied air, with N
2
distilling as a vapor while O
2
is left as a liquid. [13]

The other primary method of producing O
2
is passing a stream of clean, dry air through one bed of a pair of identical zeolite molecular sieves, which absorbs the nitrogen and delivers a gas stream that is 90% to 93% O
2
. [13] Simultaneously, nitrogen gas is released from the other nitrogen-saturated zeolite bed, by reducing the chamber operating pressure and diverting part of the oxygen gas from the producer bed through it, in the reverse direction of flow. After a set cycle time the operation of the two beds is interchanged, thereby allowing for a continuous supply of gaseous oxygen to be pumped through a pipeline. This is known as pressure swing adsorption. Oxygen gas is increasingly obtained by these non-cryogenic technologies (see also the related vacuum swing adsorption). [87]

Oxygen gas can also be produced through electrolysis of water into molecular oxygen and hydrogen. DC electricity must be used: if AC is used, the gases in each limb consist of hydrogen and oxygen in the explosive ratio 2:1. A similar method is the electrocatalytic O
2
evolution from oxides and oxoacids. Chemical catalysts can be used as well, such as in chemical oxygen generators or oxygen candles that are used as part of the life-support equipment on submarines, and are still part of standard equipment on commercial airliners in case of depressurization emergencies. Another air separation method is forcing air to dissolve through ceramic membranes based on zirconium dioxide by either high pressure or an electric current, to produce nearly pure O
2
gas. [62]

## Storage

Oxygen storage methods include high pressure oxygen tanks, cryogenics and chemical compounds. For reasons of economy, oxygen is often transported in bulk as a liquid in specially insulated tankers, since one liter of liquefied oxygen is equivalent to 840 liters of gaseous oxygen at atmospheric pressure and 20 °C (68 °F). [13] Such tankers are used to refill bulk liquid oxygen storage containers, which stand outside hospitals and other institutions that need large volumes of pure oxygen gas. Liquid oxygen is passed through heat exchangers, which convert the cryogenic liquid into gas before it enters the building. Oxygen is also stored and shipped in smaller cylinders containing the compressed gas; a form that is useful in certain portable medical applications and oxy-fuel welding and cutting. [13]

## Applications

### Medical

Uptake of O
2
from the air is the essential purpose of respiration, so oxygen supplementation is used in medicine. Treatment not only increases oxygen levels in the patient's blood, but has the secondary effect of decreasing resistance to blood flow in many types of diseased lungs, easing work load on the heart. Oxygen therapy is used to treat emphysema, pneumonia, some heart disorders (congestive heart failure), some disorders that cause increased pulmonary artery pressure, and any disease that impairs the body's ability to take up and use gaseous oxygen. [88]

Treatments are flexible enough to be used in hospitals, the patient's home, or increasingly by portable devices. Oxygen tents were once commonly used in oxygen supplementation, but have since been replaced mostly by the use of oxygen masks or nasal cannulas. [89]

Hyperbaric (high-pressure) medicine uses special oxygen chambers to increase the partial pressure of O
2
around the patient and, when needed, the medical staff. [90] Carbon monoxide poisoning, gas gangrene, and decompression sickness (the 'bends') are sometimes addressed with this therapy. [91] Increased O
2
concentration in the lungs helps to displace carbon monoxide from the heme group of hemoglobin. [92] [93] Oxygen gas is poisonous to the anaerobic bacteria that cause gas gangrene, so increasing its partial pressure helps kill them. [94] [95] Decompression sickness occurs in divers who decompress too quickly after a dive, resulting in bubbles of inert gas, mostly nitrogen and helium, forming in the blood. Increasing the pressure of O
2
as soon as possible helps to redissolve the bubbles back into the blood so that these excess gasses can be exhaled naturally through the lungs. [88] [96] [97] Normobaric oxygen administration at the highest available concentration is frequently used as first aid for any diving injury that may involve inert gas bubble formation in the tissues. There is epidemiological support for its use from a statistical study of cases recorded in a long term database. [98] [99] [100]

### Life support and recreational use

An application of O
2
as a low-pressure breathing gas is in modern space suits, which surround their occupant's body with the breathing gas. These devices use nearly pure oxygen at about one-third normal pressure, resulting in a normal blood partial pressure of O
2
. This trade-off of higher oxygen concentration for lower pressure is needed to maintain suit flexibility. [101] [102]

Scuba and surface-supplied underwater divers and submariners also rely on artificially delivered O
2
. Submarines, submersibles and atmospheric diving suits usually operate at normal atmospheric pressure. Breathing air is scrubbed of carbon dioxide by chemical extraction and oxygen is replaced to maintain a constant partial pressure. Ambient pressure divers breathe air or gas mixtures with an oxygen fraction suited to the operating depth. Pure or nearly pure O
2
use in diving at pressures higher than atmospheric is usually limited to rebreathers, or decompression at relatively shallow depths (~6 meters depth, or less), [103] [104] or medical treatment in recompression chambers at pressures up to 2.8 bar, where acute oxygen toxicity can be managed without the risk of drowning. Deeper diving requires significant dilution of O
2
with other gases, such as nitrogen or helium, to prevent oxygen toxicity. [103]

People who climb mountains or fly in non-pressurized fixed-wing aircraft sometimes have supplemental O
2
supplies. [lower-alpha 8] Pressurized commercial airplanes have an emergency supply of O
2
automatically supplied to the passengers in case of cabin depressurization. Sudden cabin pressure loss activates chemical oxygen generators above each seat, causing oxygen masks to drop. Pulling on the masks "to start the flow of oxygen" as cabin safety instructions dictate, forces iron filings into the sodium chlorate inside the canister. [62] A steady stream of oxygen gas is then produced by the exothermic reaction.

Oxygen, as a mild euphoric, has a history of recreational use in oxygen bars and in sports. Oxygen bars are establishments found in the United States since the late 1990s that offer higher than normal O
2
exposure for a minimal fee. [105] Professional athletes, especially in American football, sometimes go off-field between plays to don oxygen masks to boost performance. The pharmacological effect is doubted; a placebo effect is a more likely explanation. [105] Available studies support a performance boost from oxygen enriched mixtures only if it is breathed during aerobic exercise. [106]

Other recreational uses that do not involve breathing include pyrotechnic applications, such as George Goble's five-second ignition of barbecue grills. [107]

### Industrial

Smelting of iron ore into steel consumes 55% of commercially produced oxygen. [62] In this process, O
2
is injected through a high-pressure lance into molten iron, which removes sulfur impurities and excess carbon as the respective oxides, SO
2
and CO
2
. The reactions are exothermic, so the temperature increases to 1,700 °C. [62]

Another 25% of commercially produced oxygen is used by the chemical industry. [62] Ethylene is reacted with O
2
to create ethylene oxide, which, in turn, is converted into ethylene glycol; the primary feeder material used to manufacture a host of products, including antifreeze and polyester polymers (the precursors of many plastics and fabrics). [62]

Most of the remaining 20% of commercially produced oxygen is used in medical applications, metal cutting and welding, as an oxidizer in rocket fuel, and in water treatment. [62] Oxygen is used in oxyacetylene welding burning acetylene with O
2
to produce a very hot flame. In this process, metal up to 60 cm (24 in) thick is first heated with a small oxy-acetylene flame and then quickly cut by a large stream of O
2
. [108]

## Compounds

The oxidation state of oxygen is −2 in almost all known compounds of oxygen. The oxidation state −1 is found in a few compounds such as peroxides. [109] Compounds containing oxygen in other oxidation states are very uncommon: −1/2 (superoxides), −1/3 (ozonides), 0 (elemental, hypofluorous acid), +1/2 (dioxygenyl), +1 (dioxygen difluoride), and +2 (oxygen difluoride). [110]

### Oxides and other inorganic compounds

Water (H
2
O
) is an oxide of hydrogen and the most familiar oxygen compound. Hydrogen atoms are covalently bonded to oxygen in a water molecule but also have an additional attraction (about 23.3 kJ/mol per hydrogen atom) to an adjacent oxygen atom in a separate molecule. [111] These hydrogen bonds between water molecules hold them approximately 15% closer than what would be expected in a simple liquid with just van der Waals forces. [112] [lower-alpha 9]

Due to its electronegativity, oxygen forms chemical bonds with almost all other elements to give corresponding oxides. The surface of most metals, such as aluminium and titanium, are oxidized in the presence of air and become coated with a thin film of oxide that passivates the metal and slows further corrosion. Many oxides of the transition metals are non-stoichiometric compounds, with slightly less metal than the chemical formula would show. For example, the mineral FeO (wüstite) is written as ${\displaystyle {\ce {Fe}}_{1-x}{\ce {O}}}$, where x is usually around 0.05. [113]

Oxygen is present in the atmosphere in trace quantities in the form of carbon dioxide (CO
2
). The Earth's crustal rock is composed in large part of oxides of silicon (silica SiO
2
, as found in granite and quartz), aluminium (aluminium oxide Al
2
O
3
, in bauxite and corundum), iron (iron(III) oxide Fe
2
O
3
, in hematite and rust), and calcium carbonate (in limestone). The rest of the Earth's crust is also made of oxygen compounds, in particular various complex silicates (in silicate minerals). The Earth's mantle, of much larger mass than the crust, is largely composed of silicates of magnesium and iron.

Water-soluble silicates in the form of Na
4
SiO
4
, Na
2
SiO
3
, and Na
2
Si
2
O
5
are used as detergents and adhesives. [114]

Oxygen also acts as a ligand for transition metals, forming transition metal dioxygen complexes, which feature metal–O
2
. This class of compounds includes the heme proteins hemoglobin and myoglobin. [115] An exotic and unusual reaction occurs with PtF
6
, which oxidizes oxygen to give O2+PtF6, dioxygenyl hexafluoroplatinate. [116]

### Organic compounds

Among the most important classes of organic compounds that contain oxygen are (where "R" is an organic group): alcohols (R-OH); ethers (R-O-R); ketones (R-CO-R); aldehydes (R-CO-H); carboxylic acids (R-COOH); esters (R-COO-R); acid anhydrides (R-CO-O-CO-R); and amides (R-C(O)-NR
2
). There are many important organic solvents that contain oxygen, including: acetone, methanol, ethanol, isopropanol, furan, THF, diethyl ether, dioxane, ethyl acetate, DMF, DMSO, acetic acid, and formic acid. Acetone ((CH
3
)
2
CO
) and phenol (C
6
H
5
OH
) are used as feeder materials in the synthesis of many different substances. Other important organic compounds that contain oxygen are: glycerol, formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, citric acid, acetic anhydride, and acetamide. Epoxides are ethers in which the oxygen atom is part of a ring of three atoms. The element is similarly found in almost all biomolecules that are important to (or generated by) life.

Oxygen reacts spontaneously with many organic compounds at or below room temperature in a process called autoxidation. [117] Most of the organic compounds that contain oxygen are not made by direct action of O
2
. Organic compounds important in industry and commerce that are made by direct oxidation of a precursor include ethylene oxide and peracetic acid. [114]

## Safety and precautions

The NFPA 704 standard rates compressed oxygen gas as nonhazardous to health, nonflammable and nonreactive, but an oxidizer. Refrigerated liquid oxygen (LOX) is given a health hazard rating of 3 (for increased risk of hyperoxia from condensed vapors, and for hazards common to cryogenic liquids such as frostbite), and all other ratings are the same as the compressed gas form. [118]

### Toxicity

Oxygen gas (O
2
) can be toxic at elevated partial pressures, leading to convulsions and other health problems. [103] [lower-alpha 10] [120] Oxygen toxicity usually begins to occur at partial pressures more than 50 kilopascals  (kPa), equal to about 50% oxygen composition at standard pressure or 2.5 times the normal sea-level O
2
partial pressure of about 21 kPa. This is not a problem except for patients on mechanical ventilators, since gas supplied through oxygen masks in medical applications is typically composed of only 30%–50% O
2
by volume (about 30 kPa at standard pressure). [6]

At one time, premature babies were placed in incubators containing O
2
-rich air, but this practice was discontinued after some babies were blinded by the oxygen content being too high. [6]

Breathing pure O
2
in space applications, such as in some modern space suits, or in early spacecraft such as Apollo, causes no damage due to the low total pressures used. [101] [121] In the case of spacesuits, the O
2
partial pressure in the breathing gas is, in general, about 30 kPa (1.4 times normal), and the resulting O
2
partial pressure in the astronaut's arterial blood is only marginally more than normal sea-level O
2
partial pressure. [122]

Oxygen toxicity to the lungs and central nervous system can also occur in deep scuba diving and surface supplied diving. [6] [103] Prolonged breathing of an air mixture with an O
2
partial pressure more than 60 kPa can eventually lead to permanent pulmonary fibrosis. [123] Exposure to a O
2
partial pressures greater than 160 kPa (about 1.6 atm) may lead to convulsions (normally fatal for divers). Acute oxygen toxicity (causing seizures, its most feared effect for divers) can occur by breathing an air mixture with 21% O
2
at 66 m (217 ft) or more of depth; the same thing can occur by breathing 100% O
2
at only 6 m (20 ft). [123] [124] [125] [126]

### Combustion and other hazards

Highly concentrated sources of oxygen promote rapid combustion. Fire and explosion hazards exist when concentrated oxidants and fuels are brought into close proximity; an ignition event, such as heat or a spark, is needed to trigger combustion. [28] [127] Oxygen is the oxidant, not the fuel, but nevertheless the source of most of the chemical energy released in combustion. [28] [35]

Concentrated O
2
will allow combustion to proceed rapidly and energetically. [127] Steel pipes and storage vessels used to store and transmit both gaseous and liquid oxygen will act as a fuel; and therefore the design and manufacture of O
2
systems requires special training to ensure that ignition sources are minimized. [127] The fire that killed the Apollo 1 crew in a launch pad test spread so rapidly because the capsule was pressurized with pure O
2
but at slightly more than atmospheric pressure, instead of the 13 normal pressure that would be used in a mission. [lower-alpha 11] [129]

Liquid oxygen spills, if allowed to soak into organic matter, such as wood, petrochemicals, and asphalt can cause these materials to detonate unpredictably on subsequent mechanical impact. [127]

## Notes

1. These results were mostly ignored until 1860. Part of this rejection was due to the belief that atoms of one element would have no chemical affinity towards atoms of the same element, and part was due to apparent exceptions to Avogadro's law that were not explained until later in terms of dissociating molecules.
2. An orbital is a concept from quantum mechanics that models an electron as a wave-like particle that has a spatial distribution about an atom or molecule.
3. Oxygen's paramagnetism can be used analytically in paramagnetic oxygen gas analysers that determine the purity of gaseous oxygen. ( "Company literature of Oxygen analyzers (triplet)". Servomex. Archived from the original on March 8, 2008. Retrieved December 15, 2007.)
4. Figures given are for values up to 50 miles (80 km) above the surface
5. Thylakoid membranes are part of chloroplasts in algae and plants while they simply are one of many membrane structures in cyanobacteria. In fact, chloroplasts are thought to have evolved from cyanobacteria that were once symbiotic partners with the progenitors of plants and algae.
6. Water oxidation is catalyzed by a manganese-containing enzyme complex known as the oxygen evolving complex (OEC) or water-splitting complex found associated with the lumenal side of thylakoid membranes. Manganese is an important cofactor, and calcium and chloride are also required for the reaction to occur. (Raven 2005)
7. (1.8 grams/min/person)×(60 min/h)×(24 h/day)×(365 days/year)×(6.6 billion people)/1,000,000 g/t=6.24 billion tonnes
8. The reason is that increasing the proportion of oxygen in the breathing gas at low pressure acts to augment the inspired O
2
partial pressure nearer to that found at sea-level.
9. Also, since oxygen has a higher electronegativity than hydrogen, the charge difference makes it a polar molecule. The interactions between the different dipoles of each molecule cause a net attraction force.
10. Since O
2
's partial pressure is the fraction of O
2
times the total pressure, elevated partial pressures can occur either from high O
2
fraction in breathing gas or from high breathing gas pressure, or a combination of both.
11. No single ignition source of the fire was conclusively identified, although some evidence points to an arc from an electrical spark. [128]

## Related Research Articles

Carbon dioxide is a colorless gas with a density about 60% higher than that of dry air. Carbon dioxide consists of a carbon atom covalently double bonded to two oxygen atoms. It occurs naturally in Earth's atmosphere as a trace gas. The current concentration is about 0.04% (410 ppm) by volume, having risen from pre-industrial levels of 280 ppm. Natural sources include volcanoes, hot springs and geysers, and it is freed from carbonate rocks by dissolution in water and acids. Because carbon dioxide is soluble in water, it occurs naturally in groundwater, rivers and lakes, ice caps, glaciers and seawater. It is present in deposits of petroleum and natural gas. Carbon dioxide is odorless at normally encountered concentrations, but at high concentrations, it has a sharp and acidic odor.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless flammable gas that is slightly less dense than air. It is toxic to animals that use hemoglobin as an oxygen carrier when encountered in concentrations above about 35 ppm, although it is also produced in normal animal metabolism in low quantities, and is thought to have some normal biological functions. In the atmosphere, it is spatially variable and short lived, having a role in the formation of ground-level ozone.

Hydrogen is the chemical element with the symbol H and atomic number 1. With a standard atomic weight of 1.008, hydrogen is the lightest element in the periodic table. Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical substance in the Universe, constituting roughly 75% of all baryonic mass. Non-remnant stars are mainly composed of hydrogen in the plasma state. The most common isotope of hydrogen, termed protium, has one proton and no neutrons.

Nitrogen is the chemical element with the symbol N and atomic number 7. It was first discovered and isolated by Scottish physician Daniel Rutherford in 1772. Although Carl Wilhelm Scheele and Henry Cavendish had independently done so at about the same time, Rutherford is generally accorded the credit because his work was published first. The name nitrogène was suggested by French chemist Jean-Antoine-Claude Chaptal in 1790, when it was found that nitrogen was present in nitric acid and nitrates. Antoine Lavoisier suggested instead the name azote, from the Greek ἀζωτικός "no life", as it is an asphyxiant gas; this name is instead used in many languages, such as French, Russian, Romanian and Turkish, and appears in the English names of some nitrogen compounds such as hydrazine, azides and azo compounds.

An oxide is a chemical compound that contains at least one oxygen atom and one other element in its chemical formula. "Oxide" itself is the dianion of oxygen, an O2– atom. Metal oxides thus typically contain an anion of oxygen in the oxidation state of −2. Most of the Earth's crust consists of solid oxides, the result of elements being oxidized by the oxygen in air or in water. Hydrocarbon combustion affords the two principal carbon oxides: carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Even materials considered pure elements often develop an oxide coating. For example, aluminium foil develops a thin skin of Al2O3 (called a passivation layer) that protects the foil from further corrosion. Individual elements can often form multiple oxides, each containing different amounts of the element and oxygen. In some cases these are distinguished by specifying the number of atoms as in carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, and in other cases by specifying the element's oxidation number, as in iron(II) oxide and iron(III) oxide. Certain elements can form many different oxides, such as those of nitrogen. other examples are silicon, iron, titanium, and aluminium oxides.

Liquid hydrogen (LH2 or LH2) is the liquid state of the element hydrogen. Hydrogen is found naturally in the molecular H2 form.

A superoxide is a compound that contains the superoxide anion, which has the chemical formula O
2
. The systematic name of the anion is dioxide(1−). The reactive oxygen anion superoxide is particularly important as the product of the one-electron reduction of dioxygen O2, which occurs widely in nature. Molecular oxygen (dioxygen) is a diradical containing two unpaired electrons, and superoxide results from the addition of an electron which fills one of the two degenerate molecular orbitals, leaving a charged ionic species with a single unpaired electron and a net negative charge of −1. Both dioxygen and the superoxide anion are free radicals that exhibit paramagnetism.

Ethane is an organic chemical compound with chemical formula C
2
H
6
. At standard temperature and pressure, ethane is a colorless, odorless gas. Like many hydrocarbons, ethane is isolated on an industrial scale from natural gas and as a petrochemical by-product of petroleum refining. Its chief use is as feedstock for ethylene production.

An atmosphere is a layer or a set of layers of gases surrounding a planet or other material body, that is held in place by the gravity of that body. An atmosphere is more likely to be retained if the gravity it is subject to is high and the temperature of the atmosphere is low.

A reducing atmosphere is an atmospheric condition in which oxidation is prevented by removal of oxygen and other oxidizing gases or vapours, and which may contain actively reducing gases such as hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and gases such as hydrogen sulphide that would be oxidized by any present oxygen.

Oxygenevolution is the process of generating molecular oxygen (O2) by a chemical reaction, usually from water. Oxygen evolution from water is effected by oxygenic photosynthesis, electrolysis of water, and thermal decomposition of various oxides. The biological process supports aerobic life. When relatively pure oxygen is required industrially, it is isolated by distillation of liquified air.

There are several known allotropes of oxygen. The most familiar is molecular oxygen (O2), present at significant levels in Earth's atmosphere and also known as dioxygen or triplet oxygen. Another is the highly reactive ozone (O3). Others are:

Dioxygen plays an important role in the energy metabolism of living organisms. Free oxygen is produced in the biosphere through photolysis of water during photosynthesis in cyanobacteria, green algae, and plants. During oxidative phosphorylation in cellular respiration, oxygen is reduced to water, thus closing the biological water-oxygen redox cycle.

The oxidation state of oxygen is −2 in almost all known compounds of oxygen. The oxidation state −1 is found in a few compounds such as peroxides. Compounds containing oxygen in other oxidation states are very uncommon: −​12 (superoxides), −​13 (ozonides), 0, +​12 (dioxygenyl), +1, and +2.

Methane (or ) is a chemical compound with the chemical formula CH4 (one atom of carbon and four atoms of hydrogen). It is a group-14 hydride and the simplest alkane, and is the main constituent of natural gas. The relative abundance of methane on Earth makes it an attractive fuel, although capturing and storing it poses challenges due to its gaseous state under normal conditions for temperature and pressure.

In chemistry, a radical is an atom, molecule, or ion that has an unpaired valence electron. With some exceptions, these unpaired electrons make radicals highly chemically reactive. Many radicals spontaneously dimerize. Most organic radicals have short lifetimes.

Water is a polar inorganic compound that is at room temperature a tasteless and odorless liquid, which is nearly colorless apart from an inherent hint of blue. It is by far the most studied chemical compound and is described as the "universal solvent" and the "solvent of life". It is the most abundant substance on Earth and the only common substance to exist as a solid, liquid, and gas on Earth's surface. It is also the third most abundant molecule in the universe.

Barbara J. Finlayson-Pitts is Canadian-American atmospheric chemist. She is a professor in the chemistry department at the University of California, Irvine and is the Director of AirUCI Institute. Finlayson-Pitts and James N. Pitts, Jr. are the authors of Chemistry of the Upper and Lower Atmosphere: Theory, Experiments, and Applications (1999). She has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 2006 and is the laureate for the 2017 Garvan–Olin Medal. In 2016 she co-chaired the National Academy of Science report "The Future of Atmospheric Chemistry Research"

In an oil and gas production, flash-gas is a spontaneous vapor that is produced from the heating or depressurization of the extracted oil mixture during different phases of production. Flash evaporation, or flashing, is the process of volatile components suddenly vaporizing from their liquid state. This often happens during the transportation of petroleum products through pipelines and into vessels, such as when the stream from a common separation unit flows into an on-site atmospheric storage tank. Vessels that are used to intentionally “flash” a mixture of gas and saturated liquids are aptly named "flash drums." A type of vapor-liquid separator. A venting apparatus is used in these vessels to prevent damage due to increasing pressure, extreme cases of this are referred to as boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion (BLEVE).

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### General references

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• Emsley, John (2001). "Oxygen". Nature's Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. pp. 297–304. ISBN   978-0-19-850340-8.
• Raven, Peter H.; Evert, Ray F.; Eichhorn, Susan E. (2005). Biology of Plants (7th ed.). New York: W. H. Freeman and Company Publishers. pp. 115–27. ISBN   978-0-7167-1007-3.