A Look at the Greenhouse Gas Nitrous Oxide

A Look at the Greenhouse Gas Nitrous Oxide

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Air quality is important to everyone, all over the world.  From global warming to pollution to simple quality of life in the building where you live, air quality is equivalent to quality of life.  With B2 Lab clean air you breathe better and that means better health.

Unfortunately, data continues to show that greenhouses gases continue to threaten the atmosphere, encouraging more types of pollution that will threaten this quality of life.  Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide (from natural sources) and fluorinated gases (from human sources).

Nitrous oxide emission typically occurs naturally, as part of the nitrogen cycle:  the natural circulation of nitrogen among the atmosphere and plants and animals and microorganisms who live within Earth’s soil and water.  Nitrogen can take many chemical forms throughout the process of the nitrogen cycle.  It occurs naturally during the bacterial breakdown of soil and is then absorbed by certain bacteria; it can also be destroyed by ultraviolet radiation or by chemical reactions.


Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a consequence of the addition of nitrogen to the soil via synthetic fertilizers.  Thus, agricultural soil management is the single largest source of nitrous oxide emission in the United States; it accounts for roughly 75 percent of total US nitrous oxide emissions.  Another five percent emit as a result of the breakdown of nitrogen in livestock manure and urine.


Nitrous oxide emission can also occur through other natural processes.  It is associated, of course, with the nitrogen cycle—the natural circulation of nitrogen throughout the Earth’s atmosphere, its plants and animals, and the microorganisms that live in the soil and the water.  Nitrogen can take on several chemical forms during this nitrogen cycle, too. Basically, natural nitrous oxide emissions generally come from bacteria breaking down bacteria in soils and in the ocean.


Nitrous oxide is also a result of fossil fuel combustion.  The amount of nitrous oxide emitted from the burning of these fossil fuels depends on several variables, such as the type of fuel burned, the type of combustion technology, maintenance of related machinery, and machine operating practices.


Nitrous oxide can also be a byproduct of nitric acid production, generally in the manufacture of synthetic commercial fertilizer.  It can also be a byproduct of adipic acid production; which is used to make fibers like nylon and other synthetic products.