Carbon dioxide is all over the news because of climate change. Do you know if is CO2 polar or nonpolar? Let’s understand this gas formation.
Carbon dioxide is a chemical compound discovered in 1754 by the Scot Joseph Black, consisting of two oxygen atoms and one carbon atom, whose chemical formula is CO2.
The greatest climate change villain, CO2, is a product derived from processes such as coal combustion, fermentations and in the animals breathe – including humans. It is also found in low concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere – naturally speaking, of course.
The structure of carbon dioxide consists of molecules with a linear geometry and an apolar character.
Therefore the intermolecular attractions are very weak, making it, under ambient conditions, a gas that has a slightly irritating odor, is colorless and heavier than air, freezes at -78.5 °C, and is known as carbon dioxide gas.
This gas is used in carbonated drinks, in surgery, in metal structures, in fire extinguishers, and in controlling the pH of water, and is responsible for the temperature of the planet and the greenhouse effect.
Carbon dioxide is important due to the fact that it is an essential compound for carrying out photosynthesis – synthesis of carbohydrate from water and carbon dioxide (CO2), this process is vital for the maintenance of living things.
Carbon dioxide always existed, it only became dangerous when the man actions (like burining fossil fuels) were just not sustainable to the envonriment recovery, causing concerning changes in the natural carbon stocks and warming the planet.
These changes lead to climate change and, consequently, to the greenhouse effect.
The expressive amount of CO2, that humankind emits in the atmosphere is mainly done byindustrial and transportation sector.
Is CO2 polar or nonpolar?
Since the carbon dioxide molecule has 2 electron clouds (2 double bonds) and 2 atoms of the same element (oxygen) bonded to it, CO2 is nonpolar.
What is a nonpolar molecule?
The question of the polarity of molecules presents a great importance in Chemistry, since this characteristic is directly related to the solubility of substances, that is:
Polar substance dissolves polar substance;
Nonpolar substance dissolves nonpolar substance.
Therefore, to know if a given substance will dissolve another, it is very important to evaluate the polarity of its molecules. In general, molecules can be polar or nonpolar.
Polar molecule: one that has a negative and a positive pole in its structure;
Nonpolar molecule: one that does not have poles in its structure.
In this article, we will emphasize how to determine whether a molecule is nonpolar. The determination of nonpolar molecules is based on some important rules. These are:
Diatomic molecules are those with only two atoms. The molecule will be nonpolar only if the two atoms present in its constitution are equal, that is, belonging to the same chemical element. Examples: H2, Cl2, F2, Br2, O2, N2 etc.
Molecules with more than two atoms
In molecules that have more than two atoms, it is necessary to evaluate the amount of electronic clouds present around the central atom and compare this with the number of equal atoms bonded to it.
A cloud is a pair of electrons that is not participating in the bond or any bond that exists between two atoms. If the number of electron clouds around the central atom is equal to the number of equal atoms bonded to it, the molecule is considered to be nonpolar.
Why CO2 is a nonpolar molecule?
In the case of CO2 we have an nonpolar molecule because of the following scenario: the central atom is carbon (belonging to the VAT family), because it makes the greatest number of bonds. This element has four electrons in the valence layer and makes four bonds.
Each oxygen atom (belonging to the VIA family) makes two double bonds because it needs two more electrons to reach the octet.
Since all four electrons from the carbon are being used in the two double bonds, there are no free electrons (outside the bond) in the central atom.
There are only two electron clouds around the central atom and two equal atoms bonded to it. For this reason, the molecule in question is nonpolar.
CO2 and climate change
Carbon dioxide is a gas that helps make up the greenhouse effect, which basically means that it helps keep the sun’s heat in our atmosphere, protected by the ozone layer.
We have some other examples of gases that affect the environment, such as water vapor or nitrous oxide.
Heat trapping gases (GHG) were once our greatest allies. It was only because of this thermal efficiency that planet Earth became habitable.
The problem of climate change is not CO2
Carbon has always been present in the Earth’s atmosphere. Even, as you may know, plants feed exclusively on carbon, through the process of photosynthesis.
The problem is human beings. Our actions to generate energy through the burning of fossil fuels has created a carbon imbalance.
This extra heat from co2 is largely responsible for global warming.
If you ever meet a climate denier, you will probably hear that the planet itself produces carbon naturally.
Situations such as the eruption of a volcano or natural fires are some of the more famous examples.
But because the planet has its own dynamic of recovery, it has always been able to recover from these natural phenomena. Moreover, human actions are 40 to 60 times worse for the climate crisis than any eruption in terms of carbon footprint.
The big point is that volcanic eruptions are sporadic events, but human actions are daily, on a scale of 8 billion people, it is easy to understand why we are so harmful to nature.
This information is not from Hourglass team, but provided by IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), that produces yearly reports about climate change situation.