The Earth’s atmosphere and the air you breathe are made up of gases. How much do you know about this interesting state of matter?
If you answered, “Not much,” keep reading to learn more!
What are gases?
Gases are one of the three main states of matter. The other two are liquids and solids.
First, let’s back up a little. What is matter? Matter is any physical substance that takes up space and has mass.
Matter is made up of millions of tiny atoms and molecules that combine to form objects like desks, cars, planets, and even you! Matter exists mostly in the three states listed above, and today we are focusing on gas.
Gas molecules are extra spread out and very energetic, constantly moving around. Gases are mostly invisible and have no fixed shape. The air we breathe is made up of gases like nitrogen and oxygen.
If you put a gas inside of a container, it will spread out to fill the entire volume of the container, no matter how big or small it is.
This is because gas molecules move very fast and bump into each other, causing them to spread out evenly.
What are the different types of gases?
Gases can be categorized based on the number of atoms needed to make them. Pure gases, like neon, are made up of only one atom.
Elemental gases, like hydrogen, are made of two or more of the same atom. Compound gases, like carbon monoxide, are a combination of different types of atoms.
Gases can also be classified based on if they are natural or artificial. Natural gases are an important part of nature and are made by nature. These are common gases like oxygen and nitrogen.
Artificial gases are made by humans from chemical reactions. These gases aren’t helpful to nature and can actually be harmful.
For example, certain artificial gases can damage the ozone layer, which is needed to protect us from the sun.
There are also noble gases, which normally won’t bond with different elements. They can only bond with other elements of the same kind.
Why are gases important?
We already learned that Earth’s atmosphere and the air we breathe are made up of gases, but that’s not the only reason gases are important.
Oxygen and nitrogen can help people who have trouble breathing on their own. Other gases can be used as anesthesia, which keeps people from feeling pain during medical procedures.
Gases can be used for cooking and for generating electricity. They are used in lamps, electric light bulbs, and refrigerators. They help keep our food sterile and safe to eat.
Natural gases are used in the production of paper, glass, and clothing.
Different types of gases are found in balloons (helium), soda (carbon dioxide), gas grills (propane), and lighters (butane). Hydrogen may one day even be used to fuel cars.
These are only some of the many, many ways gases are used every day!
Facts about Gas
Gas is essential to life on Earth. Oxygen helps produce energy in the human body, and carbon dioxide is used by plants for photosynthesis.
Fire is formed from a combination of hot gases.
Natural gases are lighter than air.
Gases that are usually liquids at room temperature are called “vapor.” “Water vapor” is something you’ve probably heard of before.
Some gas particles move so fast that they travel faster than the speed of sound!
In 1785, Britain became the first country to use natural gases to light houses and streetlights.
Natural gases are odorless, meaning they have no smell, so energy companies add a rotten egg smell so that people will be able to smell gas leaks.
Heat causes gases to expand.
Natural gases were formed about 100 million years ago.
We may not be able to see gases, but they are a huge part of our daily lives. Next time you drink a bubbly soda, blow up a balloon, or even take a deep breath, you’ll know that none of it would be possible without gases.