Matter & Energy


Matter is composed of atoms or groups of atoms called molecules. The arrangement of particles in a material depends on the physical state of the substance. In a solid, particles form a compact structure that resists flow. Particles in a liquid have more energy than those in a solid. They can flow past one another, but they remain close. Particles in a gas have the most energy. They move rapidly and are separated from one another by relatively large distances.

Carbon Dioxide

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Carbon Dioxide, colorless, odorless, and slightly acid-tasting gas, sometimes called carbonic acid gas, the molecule of which consists of one atom of carbon joined to two atoms of oxygen. It was called “fixed air” by the Scottish chemist Joseph Black, who obtained it through the decomposition of chalk and limestone and recognized that it entered into the chemical composition of these substances. The French chemist Antoine Lavoisier proved that it is an oxide of carbon by showing that the gas obtained by the combustion of charcoal is identical in its properties with the “fixed air” obtained by Black. Carbon dioxide is about 1.5 times as dense as air. It is soluble in water, 0.9 volume of the gas dissolving in 1 volume of water at 20° C (68° F).

Carbon dioxide is produced in a variety of ways: by combustion, or oxidation, of materials containing carbon, such as coal, wood, oil, or foods; by fermentation of sugars; and by decomposition of carbonates under the influence of heat or acids. Commercially, carbon dioxide is recovered from furnace or kiln gases; from fermentation processes; from reaction of carbonates with acids; and from reaction of steam with natural gas, a step in the commercial production of ammonia. The carbon dioxide is purified by dissolving it in a concentrated solution of alkali carbonate or ethanolamine and then heating the solution with steam. The gas is evolved and is compressed into steel cylinders.

The atmosphere contains carbon dioxide in variable amounts, usually 3 to 4 parts per 10,000, and has been increasing by 0.4 percent a year. It is used by green plants in the process known as photosynthesis, by which carbohydrates are manufactured.

The presence of carbon dioxide in the blood stimulates breathing. For this reason, carbon dioxide is added to oxygen or ordinary air in artificial respiration and to the gases used in anesthesia.