4 December 2020 Bulletin

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Nitric Acid

Nitric acid, also known as aqua fortis and spirit of niter, is a highly corrosive strong mineral acid with the molecular formula HNO3. The pure compound is colourless, but older samples tend to acquire a yellow cast due to decomposition into oxides of nitrogen and water. Most commercially available nitric acid has a concentration of 68%. When the solution contains more than 86% HNO3, it is referred to as fuming nitric acid. Depending on the amount of nitrogen dioxide present, fuming nitric acid is further characterised as white fuming nitric acid or red fuming nitric acid, at concentrations above 95%. Nitric acid is the primary reagent used for nitration – the addition of a nitro group, typically to an organic molecule. Nitric acid is also a strong oxidising agent. [1]


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