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Nitrous Oxide – Greenhouse Gas Source

Nitrous Oxide – Greenhouse Gas Source

Nitrous Oxide

  • Commonly known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide (N2O) is a chemical compound with the formula N2O. It is an oxide of nitrogen.
  • At room temperature, it is a colourless, odourless and non-inflammable gas, with a slightly sweet taste.
  • It is known as ‘laughing gas’ due to the euphoric effects of inhaling it.
  • It is also used as an oxidiser in rocket propellants and in motor racing to increase the power output of engines.
  • At elevated temperatures, nitrous oxide is a powerful oxidiser similar to molecular oxygen.
  • Nitrous oxide gives rise to nitric oxide (NO) on reaction with oxygen atoms, and this NO in turn reacts with ozone.
  • It is also a major greenhouse gas and air pollutant.                  Nitrous Oxide – Greenhouse Gas Source
  • Over a hundred-year period, nitrous oxide is calculated to have more impact per unit mass (between 265 and 310 times) than carbon dioxide.

Fluorinated Gases

  • These are called so because these gases contain fluorine. They have the highest global warming potential, but they are released in small quantities.
  • Fluorinated gases have the capacity to mix well in the atmosphere and thus can spread over large distances.
  • These gases have high thermal stability, can reach the upper atmosphere and deplete the ozone layer
  • Fluorinated gases are removed from the upper atmosphere, when they are destroyed by UV radiations emitted by the sun.
  • Some of the important fluorinated gases causing global warming are:

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) or Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs):

  • The HCFCs are substances containing hydrogen, carbon, fluorine and chlorine chemicals. The HFCs are replacement for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
  • The CFCs are banned in all the countries, because the CFCs are ozone depleting substances.
  • The HFCs are even more reactive than CFCs and get disintegrated on the surface of the earth.
  • Thus, HFCs don’t affect the ozone layer. The HFCs are used as refrigerants, propellants, etc.            Nitrous Oxide – Greenhouse Gas Source

Sulphur Hexafluoride (SF6):

  • Sulphur hexafluoride is a colourless, odourless, non-inflammable, an extremely potent greenhouse gas and an excellent electrical insulator.


  • Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) are typically used in the electronic sector (e.g., for plasma cleaning of silicon wafers) as well as in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry.
  • In the past, PFCs were also used in fire extinguishers and can still be found in older fire protection systems.          Nitrous Oxide – Greenhouse Gas Source


Environment & Biodiversity

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