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Difference Between Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Dioxide

Carbon Monoxide vs Carbon Dioxide

During our elementary grade, we have been taught what carbon dioxide is. From what I remember, carbon dioxide is what we exhale in order to breathe in oxygen within our body. It is involved in the process of respiration. But as knowledge expanded, like in high school or college, we are now hearing about this carbon monoxide stuff. Suddenly, things begin to be complicated since there is a lot of information being fed to us by our school mentors. To understand fully the difference between carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, let us discuss some of their chemical properties and their uses.

First, let us talk about carbon dioxide, the more popular subject. Carbon dioxide is a chemical compound commonly known as CO2. It takes the form of a gas when it is at room temperatures. It is a colorless and odorless gas. As the name implies, carbon dioxide is composed of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. Like we have said earlier, carbon dioxide is released when people exhale. Even animals exhale carbon dioxide. It is also emitted when some organic substances are burned or when a fire is made. Examples of organic objects are; leaves, wood, and other things which are previously from a living organism.

Carbon dioxide is important in the process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process wherein plants make use of the carbon dioxide in making food. When plants make food, we humans will have food for ourselves. It is also important in the process of respiration. Without carbon dioxide, the process of respiration cannot be completed. For us to breathe in oxygen from the plants, we must give them carbon dioxide in return. Carbon dioxide also plays an important role in our weather and climate. It is a greenhouse gas which has the function to trap heat energy which contributes to the Earth’s general temperature. Excessive heat trapping may result in global warming which is very common these days.

Let us now talk about carbon monoxide. Actually, there is only a minimal difference between carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. They are both colorless and odorless gases. The only difference is that carbon monoxide is made up of one carbon atom and one oxygen atom. It takes the molecular formula of CO. If carbon dioxide is produced by plants and the combustion of organic materials, carbon monoxide is formed by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels such as gas, coal, oil, and wood used in engines, gas fires, open fires, water heaters, and solid fuel appliances such as wood stoves.

Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and even tasteless! You will hear reports of carbon monoxide poisoning in the TV news. A man and his wife died sleeping inside their car with the heater and engine on! This resulted in increased levels of carbon monoxide so that they died a quiet death. Today, CO detectors have been made to determine whether the levels of carbon monoxide are being detrimental to one’s health.

Summary:

  1. Carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide are both colorless and odorless gases.

  2. Carbon monoxide has a molecular formula of CO while carbon dioxide is CO2.

  3. Carbon monoxide is composed of one carbon atom and one oxygen atom while carbon dioxide is composed of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms.

  4. Carbon monoxide is produced from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels like gas, coal, oil, and solid fuel appliances while carbon dioxide is produced from the exhalation of people and animals and from the combustion of organic materials like leaves and wood.

  5. Carbon dioxide is important in the process of respiration and photosynthesis.

  6. Carbon monoxide at increased levels is poisonous which will likely result in death.


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