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Diphosphorus Pentoxide

Diphosphorus Pentoxide

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Diphosphorus pentoxide, also referred to as  Phosphorus pentoxide is a complex substance with the formula P4O10. It is called a pentoxide because it is derived from P2O5. Phosphorus pentoxide can be a crystal in about four polymorphs. The highly recognizable one, being P4O10 has a weak Van der Waals force that holds its molecules mutually in a lattice shaped like a hexagon. Despite the high molecular symmetry, the crystal molecules are not closely packed. The structure of this chemical compound is similar to that of adamantine and is strongly related to the consequent anhydride of phosphorous acid, P4O6.


The image shown demonstrates the reaction of water contact to the chemical.

This acid has a density of 2.30 g per cm3; a boiling point of 423 °C and sublimes in the presence of more heat. As for the other three polymorphs, they are polymeric, and oxygen atoms in a tetrahedron structure binds the phosphorus atoms and a P=O bond are formed at the end.

Phosphorus Pentoxide is produced when the fundamental phosphorus is burned in adequate air supply:

P4 + 5 O2 → P4O10

In the previous century, phosphoric acid was supplied by P4O10. Phosphorous pentoxide was used to create concentrated acid by dissolving it in the diluted solution of phosphoric acid after burning phosphorus. This thermal process has now become outdated as the filtered technology has taken over, thus introducing the process of using wet phosphoric acid.

Diphosphorus Pentoxide can be applied in various ways, some of which include:

Due to the exothermic behavior it exhibits during hydrolysis, Diphosphorus pentoxide is a strong dehydrating agent (P4O10 + 6 H2O → 4 H3PO4). It is used in desiccators in its granular form. In its solution form (known as Onodera reagent), it is used to oxidize alcohols. Due to the high desiccating ability of this compound, it has the ability to transform other mineral acids into their respective anhydrides. For example, N2O5 is the anhydride of HNO3; SO3 is the anhydride of H2SO4.


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