Phosphorus Pentoxide (P205)

Phosphorus Pentoxide (P205)

Chemicals are part of our day to day lives, only that we don’t realize the chemistry we apply in our lives!  From cooking, all the way to washing, water treatment, just to mention a few. It is however quite important to understand which chemical we use where. That’s why we are going to understand the depth of one major chemical that we use as a dehydrator or desiccant. It is a major compound of almost every compound that we use as a dehydrator. Let’s see and explore the chemical composition, the uses, and the effect of using sodium pentoxide(P2O5)

Existence of phosphorus pentoxide

Phosphorus pentoxide is a chemical compound that is extracted from phosphoric acid. It exists in crystalline form at ambient temperature. It is basically an acid anhydride with an empirical formula P2O5. Its molecular formula is P4O10. It is highly hygroscopic, with great ability to absorb moisture from its surroundings. It is therefore a good dehydrator or desiccant. It is available in crystals because that’s the only usable form of phosphorus pentoxide. This chemical compound is prepared by burning element P4(tetra phosphorus) in sufficient amounts of oxygen. The end product of this reaction is pure phosphoric acid.


Physical appearance and properties

Phosphorus pentoxide is a white solid. It does not have any distinct odor. Being an acid hydride, it has the ability to absorb moisture from its surroundings. It boils at 633k and at this temperature it sublimes. It undergoes sublimation exothermically. It is highly corrosive to metals. It has a density of 2.39g/cm3.

Uses of phosphorus pentoxide

This chemical is widely applicable in different industries as well as at home because of its ability to absorb moisture. Here are some of its major uses.

  • It is used as a compound of major dehydrate in many reagents
  • It is in chemical industries to perform organic synthesis reactions such as the conversion of amides to nitriles
  • It is used to synthesize Onodera which is an oxidant in the manufacture of alcohols.
  • It is vital in the manufacture of acids to anhydrides a good example is the manufacture of nitric acid.
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Chemical structure

Like any other chemical compound, it has a complex but elaborate chemical structure that consists of different chemical bonds as illustrated below.

Pm[picometre] bond length

P=O bond angle-102°

O-O bond angle-123°

Handling the chemical needs extreme care especially when there is contact with water since it reacts exothermically. The containers should also be well labeled to make sure it is not used for the wrong purpose. It should be used according to the safety guidelines specified by the authorized suppliers.

Phosphorus pentoxide is one of the major chemicals that are used for the manufacture of reagents as well as other chemicals and we have gone through the major aspects of the chemical which helps us understand the chemistry behind it. As mentioned, it is better to be sure of the exact use of such chemicals and use them according to the specification and safety measures. Note that the raw form of the chemical is not supplied for domestic use, it is strictly for manufacturing purposes therefore it is not available as phosphorus pentoxide but as other products that contain it.

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