zinc carbonate

Carbon Monoxide Burning in a Blue Flame

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is slightly less dense than air. It is toxic to hemoglobic animals. 

Carbon monoxide is produced from the partial oxidation of carbon-containing compounds; it forms when there is not enough oxygen to produce carbon dioxide (CO2), such as when operating a stove or an internal combustion engine in an enclosed space. In the presence of oxygen, including atmospheric concentrations, carbon monoxide burns with a blue flame, producing carbon dioxide.

  •                             CO + 2O2 → CO2 + O3 

There are many ways of Carbon monoxide production, such as:

The  Boudouard reaction ( Above 800 °C ):  

  •                     CO2 + C→ 2CO  (ΔH= 170 kJ/mol) 

Via the endothermic reaction of steam and carbon:            

  •                 H2O + C → H2 + CO (ΔH = +131 kJ/mol)

As a byproduct of the reduction of metal oxide ores with carbon:           

  •                           MetalO + C → Metal + CO 

By the direct oxidation of carbon in a limited supply of oxygen:        

  •                               2C(s) + O2 → 2CO(g)

A good method for lab use is heating an intimate mixture of powdered zinc metal and calcium carbonate, which releases CO and leaves behind zinc oxide and calcium oxide:

  •                        Zn + CaCO3 → ZnO + CaO + CO 

Silver nitrate and iodoform also afford carbon monoxide:

  •               CHI3 + 3AgNO3 + H2O → 3HNO3 + 3AgI + CO

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Interested in getting your own Tron light suit?

The picture above doesn’t show two crossed optical fibers like those used in telecommunications, where a source at the end of the cable sends light careening through it. Instead, these glowing blue and yellow fibers are actually generating their own light.

The material, called polymer light-emitting photochemical cells (PLEC), efficiently converts electrons to photons throughout the length of the fiber while operating on little power. They might one day be woven into clothing or other products to make new types of fashion or wearable, bendable displays. Imagine your smartphone on your shirtsleeve.  

(The letter “A” made from fiber-shaped polymer light-emitting electrochemical cells [PLECs]. Courtesy Zhang et al./Nature Photonics.)

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ROSASITE (Copper Zinc Carbonate) and HEMIMORPHITE from Chihuahua, Mexico. Blue spheres of rosasite and clear to translucent blue hemimorphite crystals.