Nitrogen - N
Nitrogen is a common normally colourless, odourless, tasteless and mostly diatomic non-metal gas. It has five electrons in its outer shell, so it is trivalent in most compounds.
The greatest single commercial use of nitrogen is as a component in the manufacture of ammonia, subsequently used as fertilizer and to produce nitric acid.
Nitrogen in the environment
Nitrogen constitutes 78 percent of Earth's atmosphere and is a constituent of all living tissues. Nitrogen is an essential element for life, because it is a constituent of DNA and, as such, is part of the genetic code.
Nitrogen molecules occur mainly in air. In water and soils nitrogen can be found in nitrates and nitrites. All of these substances are a part of the nitrogen cycle, and there are all interconnected.
Back to the periodic chart
Find our nitrogen in water page
For more information on nitrogen in the environment, move to the nitrogen cycle