What is CO2?
Carbon dioxide (chemical name CO2) is a clear gas composed of one atom of carbon (C) and two atoms of oxygen (O2). It is produced naturally by processes deep in the earth. This CO2 can be released at the surface by volcanoes or might be trapped in natural underground geologic CO2 deposits similar to the underground deposits of oil and natural gas. This is a different chemical compound to the poisonous Carbon Monoxide (CO). Carbon Dioxide is made up of two Oxygen atoms and one Carbon atom sharing electrons.
Carbon is a naturally occurring compound found widely in nature. It is found in abundance in the sun, stars, comets, and atmospheres of most planets. For example, the atmosphere of Mars contains 96% CO2. Carbon can be found in various forms such as graphite and diamond. Graphite is one of the softest known materials, whilst diamond in comparison, is one of the hardest.
Carbon is present as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and dissolved in all natural waters. It is a component of rocks as carbonates of calcium (limestone), magnesium, and iron. Carbon is unique among the elements in the vast number of variety of compounds it can form.
A gaseous element, oxygen forms 21% of the Earth’s atmosphere as compared to the atmosphere of Mars which contains less than half of 1% oxygen. About two-thirds of the human body and 90% of water is Oxygen. Under excited conditions, Oxygen is responsible for the bright red and yellow-green colours of the Aurora Borealis. Another common form of Oxygen is Ozone (O3), a highly active compound, formed by the action of an electrical discharge or ultraviolet light on oxygen. Ozone’s presence in the atmosphere (amounting to the equivalent of a layer 3 mm thick under ordinary pressures and temperatures) helps prevent harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun from reaching the earth’s surface. Pollutants in the atmosphere may have a detrimental effect on this ozone layer.
A colorless odorless gas naturally present in our atmosphere, Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is produced by respiration (breathing) and is consumed by plants during photosynthesis. Large quantities of solid carbon dioxide ( in the form of dry ice) are used in processes requiring large-scale refrigeration. Carbon Dioxide is also used in fire extinguishers and in carbonated drinks. It has been identified as a Possible cause of global warming. This is believed to be a direct result of the increased combustion of fossil fuels in cars and power plants.