What Is Reduction Oxidation?

December 5, 2018

The reduction-oxidation reaction (also written as the oxidation-reduction reaction) is a type of chemical reaction in which the oxidation number of involved chemical species changes. This is a very broad term that covers a wide variety of processes, but some of the most common examples of these reactions include fire, the rusting of metal, photosynthesis, respiration and the browning of fruits. This type of process can also be an important part of water filtration in Scottsdale, AZ.

Many processes of reduction oxidation in Scottsdale, AZ involve the transfer of electrons, hydrogen atoms or oxygen atoms. Each of these types of transfer share a couple main characteristics: they are all coupled and they all involve a net chemical change.

Let’s take a look at some examples.

Hydrogen-atom transfer

Hydrogen atoms can be transferred from hydrazine (which is a compound of hydrogen and nitrogen) to oxygen in a way that can make molecules of water. When hydrazine loses its hydrogen, it gets oxidized to molecular nitrogen. However, when oxygen gains hydrogen, it is reduced to water.

Oxygen-atom transfer

One example of an oxygen-atom transfer occurs when carbon reacts with mercury oxide, a compound in which the bonding capacity of mercury is +2. The reaction results in the production of mercury metal and carbon dioxide.

Carbon is oxidized as it receives oxygen in this process, and mercury oxide loses oxygen, undergoing the complementary reduction, with the net result being the transfer of a pair of oxygen atoms from mercury oxide to a carbon atom, forming the resultant carbon dioxide molecule.

Electron transfer

In an example of an electron transfer, zinc metal and copper ion can react in a water solution, resulting in copper metal and an aqueous zinc ion. By transferring a pair of its electrons, that zinc metal gets oxidized to become the aqueous zinc ion. In the meantime, the copper ion that gains electrons gets reduced to copper metal. The net change here is the transfer of the two electrons from zinc to be acquired by copper.

Reduction and oxidation processes are complementary in nature, and are referred to together as redox reactions. The reactant that causes the oxidation is referred to as the oxidizing agent, and that reagent gets reduced by what’s referred to as the reducing agent. In all three of these examples we’ve discussed, the reducing agents were hydrazine, carbon and zinc, and the oxidizing agents were oxygen, mercury oxide and copper ions.

This is just a very shallow overview of reduction oxidation in Scottsdale, AZ. For a more thorough overview of these processes and a greater understanding of how they work in the process of water filtration, we encourage you to contact WES Water today and we’ll be happy to tell you more about the chemical processes that go into our filtration systems to give you the cleanest, purest and freshest water possible for use in your home or business. We look forward to answering any questions you have, from the chemically complex to the most basic!

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