Catalytic oxidation of ammonia

Platinum wire incandesce in ammonia fumes

Scientific name: Oxidation of ammonia with platinum catalyst


Oxidation of Ammonia with Platinum Catalyst

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Concentrated aqueous ammonia can cause burns and is irritating to the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract. Wear eye protection.

The resulting nitrogen dioxide is an extremely toxic gas by inhalation. Avoid breathing it. Perform this experiment outside, in a fume hood or in a well ventilated room.

Always follow general safety recommendations. Please note that conducting chemistry experiments you must comply with the relevant legal procedures in your country.

Reaction formula

4NH3 + 5O2 -[Pt]→ 4NO + 6H2O

Step-by-step instruction

  1. Put a small amount of concentrated ammonia solution into a beaker.
  2. Take a platinum wire and make a construction that you can easily put inside the beaker.
  3. Heat the platinum wire in a flame until it glows red and put in the beaker.

Scientific background

Ammonia is oxidized by oxygen on the platinum wire surface. The platinum wire acts as a catalyst in this reaction which generates a lot of heat to make the wire glowing red hot.


Published on 29 August 2014

  • Fire
  • Heating with fire
  • Explosion
  • Poisoned gas
  • Organic
  • Electricity
  • Solution
  • Oxidation reduction
  • Color change
  • Precipitate
  • Gassing
  • Catalyst