Hydroxylamine

From Academic Kids

The compound hydroxylamine is a nitrogen-containing base whose chemical formula is NH2OH, and is therefore a close relative of the compound ammonia. It is a powerful reducing agent and is used in organic chemical synthesis. At room temperature it is ordinarily a colorless crystalline compound. Industrially, it is made by a modified reduction of nitric acid, and the product is a volatile, unstable solution of hydroxylamine in water.

Hydroxylamine tends to be explosive, and the nature of the hazard is not entirely understood. At least two factories dealing in hydroxylamine have been destroyed since 1999 with appreciable loss of life. It is known, however, that ferrous and ferric iron accelerate the decomposition of hydroxylamine in 50 percent solution. Consequently, hydroxylamine and its derivatives are more safely handled in the form of salts.

Hydroxylamine is an important biological intermediate in the nitrification (where oxidation is mediated by HAO: hydroxylamine oxidoreductase) and the anammox process.

The nitrate salt, hydroxylammonium nitrate, is being researched as a rocket propellant, both in water solution as a monopropellant and in its solid form as a solid propellant.

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