Chemical decomposition

Chemical Decomposition

Chemical decomposition

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Description:
Chemical decomposition, analysis or breakdown is the separation of a chemical compound into elements or simpler compounds. It is sometimes defined as the exact opposite of a chemical synthesis. Chemical decomposition is often an undesired chemical reaction. The stability that a chemical compound ordinarily has is eventually limited when exposed to extreme environmental conditions like heat, radiation, humidity or the acidity of a solvent. The details of decomposition processes are generally not well defined, as a molecule may break up into a host of smaller fragments. Chemical decomposition is exploited in several analytical techniques, notably mass spectrometry, traditional gravimetric analysis, and thermogravimetric analysis.

A broader definition of the term decomposition also includes the breakdown of one phase into two or more phases.

There are broadly three types of decomposition reactions: thermal, electrolytic and catalytic.

Reaction formula

The generalized reaction for chemical decomposition is:

AB → A + B


with a specific example being the electrolysis of water to gaseous hydrogen and oxygen:

2H<sub>2</sub>O(I) &rarr; 2H<sub>2</sub> + O<sub>2</sub>


Additional examples

An example of spontaneous decomposition is that of hydrogen peroxide, which will slowly decompose into water and oxygen:

2H<sub>2</sub>O<sub>2</sub> &rarr;......
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