• Question: Hey You guys, I'm just wondering if you know any facts about Chemical Reactions? Preferably that not many people have heard of. Thanks, Carmi :)

    Asked by carmi to Alastair, Hywel, Keith on 24 Jun 2010 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Keith Brain

      Keith Brain answered on 24 Jun 2010:

      Chemical reactions that people haven’t heard of ..hmmm … think I’ll take the biological line. Here goes:
      – Bicarbonate (HCO3-), or “baking soda”, is the 3rd-most abundant ion in our blood plasma. So, its reaction with acid (H+) makes CO2 (the same gas used to make fizzy drinks) and water. I’m surprised we don’t fizz … oh hang on … we do … it’s called “the bends”, which can occur after deep diving and is due to dissolved nitrogen gas fizzing out of your blood while trapped in your blood vessels.
      – Nitroglycerine, an explosive developed by Alfred Nobel (founder of the most important science prizes in the world) spontaneously breaks down in our bodies to cause release a gas called NO (Nitric Oxide) – YES, really! The NO, causes the blood vessels to dilate which is important for treating heart problems like angina. So, an explosive can be used to treat heart problems.
      – In people with heart failure, nitroglycerin patches are often put on people’s chests to help ease pain coming from their heart. If they have a heart attack, and their heart stops, they need to be a defibrillated, which means passing an electric current through their chests … Electricity and this explosive leads to the following reaction:
      C3H5(NO3)3 → 3CO2 + 2.5H2O + 1.5N2 + 0.25O2
      [sorry I can’t do the subscripts]
      This is explosive (notice all the gas on the right hand side, which contributes to the explosive force).
      So, people being trained to use difibrillation are taught to remove shiny patches of medication on the chest before they give an electric shock … so that they don’t cause an explosion!

    • Photo: Hywel Vaughan

      Hywel Vaughan answered on 24 Jun 2010:

      I must admit that my knowledge of strange and wonderful chemical reactions is not great carmi, however there is one website that I look to if i want to see some! There is a whole host of really good videos on here, that show some pretty cool reactions and the facts and figures that go with them! Happy watching 😀

      Edit: As an extra note, if you look at the ‘Elephant Toothpaste’ one, they are using Hydrogen Peroxide at 30% concentrated… this is similar to what we are using in our rocket, except that ours is 87% concentrated and much more reactive 😀