Ammonium bicarbonate - NH<sub>4</sub>HCO<sub>3</sub>

What is Ammonium bicarbonate?

NH4HCO3 is an inorganic compound with chemical name Ammonium bicarbonate. It is also called Ammonium hydrogencarbonate or Monoammonium carbonate or Ammonium hydrogencarbonat. It is the bicarbonate salt (HCO3) of the ammonium ion (NH⁺₄) which degrades readily to CO2 (carbon dioxide), ammonia, and water.

Ammonium hydrogencarbonate is a crystalline solid white in colour which smells like ammonia. It is soluble in water but insoluble in ethanol, acetone, alcohol, and benzene. It is hazardous to the environment and immediate measures should be taken to stop the spread. It is widely used in food processing.

Properties of Ammonium bicarbonate – NH4HCO3

NH4HCO3 Ammonium bicarbonate
Molecular weight of NH4HCO3 79.056 g/mol
Density of Ammonium bicarbonate 1.586 g/dm3
Flash point of Ammonium bicarbonate Non-flammable
Melting Point of Ammonium bicarbonate 41.9 °C

Ammonium bicarbonate structure – NH4HCO3

Ammonium bicarbonate structure

NH4HCO3 Uses (Ammonium bicarbonate)

  • Ammonium bicarbonate is used in food industry as a food additive.
  • Used in fire extinguishers.
  • Used in the manufacturing of dyes.
  • Used as a fertilizer.
  • Used to produce ammonium salt.
  • Used in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products.
  • Used in the making of paints.
  • Used in the manufacturing of ceramics.
  • Used in leather tanning.
  • Used in cooling baths.

Production of Ammonium bicarbonate

Ammonium hydrogencarbonate is obtained by combining carbon dioxide (CO2) and ammonia (NH3):

CO2 + NH3 + H2O → (NH4)HCO3

This compound is thermally unstable and the reaction solution is maintained cold to allow the precipitation as a white solid. In the year 1997 almost 1,00,000 tons were produced by the above process.

Health hazards

Inhaling Monoammonium carbonate causes respiratory irritation. Swallowing is harmful and contact with skin or eyes causes severe irritation. When heated, irritating, toxic ammonia gas will be liberated from the compound. It decomposes with explosion and ammonia gas is produced.

Learn more about the Structure, physical and chemical properties of NH4HCO3 from the experts at BYJU’S.

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