The oxidizing agent is a term which is used to describe a reactant in the oxidation and reduction reactions which include the transfer of electrons between the reactants in order to form a product. There are various processes like rusting, combustion, aging which involves the substances called as oxidizing agents.
These agents, or also called oxidants, gain electrons and get reduced in a chemical reaction. Hence they are called as electron acceptors. These agents are normally in their highest possible oxidation states as they tend to gain electrons and be reduced. Some of the examples of the oxidizing agent include halogens, potassium nitrate, Fluorine, chlorine and nitric acid, etc.
Ions, Atoms, and molecules tend to have a large affinity for electrons are said to be good oxidizing agents. The elemental fluorine is an example of the strongest agent. F2 is also a good oxidizing agent such that the metals, asbestos, quartz, and even water in its presence tend to bursts out to flame. Some of the other good examples of these types of agents include O2, Cl2, O3. These are present in the elemental forms of second and the third most electronegative element, respectively.
Some of the compounds with large oxidation states are also said to be good oxidizing agents like the permanganate, chromate, dichromate ions along with nitric acid, perchloric acid, sulfuric acid. All these compounds are known as strong oxidizing agents as these elements tend to become more electronegative with the increases in the oxidation states of the atoms.
Examples of Oxidizing Agent
- Halogens- The group 17 elements of the periodic table are called as Halogens. They are said to have strong ability to gain electrons as they tend to have higher electronegativity. Hence they can easily attract the electrons. Some of the halogens which are good oxidizing agents are chlorine, fluorine, bromine, iodine, of which fluorine is said to be the strongest than the other four which is followed by bromine, chlorine, and iodine.
- Oxygen– Oxygen is the chemical element having symbol O with an atomic number of 8. It belongs to the chalcogen group of the periodic table and it is also said to be a highly reactive non- metal with good oxidizing properties. The metal tends to form oxides with most of the elements and also with various compounds. Oxygen is observed in most of the combustion reactions.
- Hydrogen peroxide– Hydrogen peroxide is the chemical compound having formula H2O2. It appears as a colorless liquid which is viscous than water. Hydrogen peroxide is the simplest peroxide and a compound having an oxygen-oxygen single bond. It finds its uses as a weak oxidizer, disinfectant, and a bleaching agent.
Applications of Oxidizing Agent
These agents are useful in many commercial and industrial applications. They are majorly used in various processes such as bleaching fabrics, purifying water, and for storing of energy in gasoline and batteries. These play a major role in all the biological processes of the living system such as in the process of photosynthesis in plants and metabolism in animals. Many organisms make use of electron acceptors to collect energy from the redox reactions such as in the process of hydrolysis of glucose.