Important Facts about Oxidation

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Oxidation is a chemical reaction that occurs along with reduction and is known as Redox reactions. The process involves the transfer of electrons between two different chemical species. Oxidation causes the loss of electrons and thereby and increase in the number of molecules or ions or atoms and consequently the reduction results in gain of electrons and a decrease in the ions, molecules or atoms. Typically, oxidation involves a chemical reaction that results in the formation of oxides where chemical bonds are created with oxygen.

Here are some more facts about Oxidation that are quite interesting.

In some oxidation reactions, a physical change of state may occur but not a full transfer of electrons. These reactions are half-reactions. The formation of covalent bonds also takes place by redox reactions without the transfer of any electrons.

When the term oxidation was first coined, it was only applied to chemical reactions involving reaction with the element oxygen. Later it was expanded to encompass all electron-transfer reactions and the process of formation of oxidised substances.

Oxidation number is used to denote the number of atoms that have been gained or lost involved in the formation of the chemical bond. In every reaction, the total sum resulting from gain or loss of formal charges must amount to zero in each ionised molecule.

An element is capable of having different oxidation numbers for different molecules because it basically denotes the limiting ionic contribution to the formation of a bond. In the case of Sodium Chloride for example, the charge on the atom is equivalent to the oxidation state of each atom.
In the formation of covalent bonds, ionic charges are shared by the atoms forming the bond but in the case of ionic bonds, the ions contain a net charge resulting from the loss and gain of electrons during the redox reaction.

The oxidation number of any atom in its elemental form is taken to be zero. Examples of this would include Hydrogen gas, Argon gas, Iron etc.
The oxidation state of alkali metals at all times is taken to be +1.

When Hydrogen is oxidised and bonded to non-metal elements like Fluorine or Oxygen, the oxidation state is +1 while when bonding with a metal like Lithium, the oxidation state is -1.

Oxidizing agents often find usage in wastewater treatment. Some of the common oxidising agents used in this case include sodium hypochlorite, Hydrogen peroxide, Ozone, Potassium Permanganate, Calcium Hypochlorite, Chlorine etc.

Consequently reduction agents too are used in the wastewater treatment process that include compounds like sulphur dioxide, ferrous sulphate, Sodium Bisulphate etc.

Ozone is a very strong oxidising agent and finds use in manufacturing of decolouring agents or as oxidants of organic materials.

Hydrogen Peroxide is used for treatment of cyanides and wastewater that has been polluted with organic materials.

When oxygen is used as an oxidising agent at high temperature and pressure by dissolving it in wastewater, the process is known as wet oxidation. It is considered an effective method of oxidising organic materials and removal of toxic compounds.

It is often confusing for a student to determine oxidising and reducing agents. An easy fact to remember is that the elements that gain electrons are oxidising agents while elements losing electrons are reducing agents.

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