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Inert facts for kids

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In chemistry, the term inert is used to describe something that is not chemically active. The noble gases were described as being inert because they did not react with the other elements or themselves.

Inert gases are completely inert to basic chemical reactions (such as combustion, for example) because their outer valence shell is completely filled with electrons. With a filled outer valence shell, an inert atom is not able to acquire or lose an electron, and is therefore not able to participate in any chemical reactions. For inert atoms or molecules, a lot of energy is involved before it can combine with other elements to form compounds. A high temperature and pressure is necessary, and sometimes requires the presence of a catalyst.

For example, elemental nitrogen is inert under standard room conditions and exists as a diatomic molecule, N2. The inertness of nitrogen is due to the presence of the very strong triple covalent bond in the N2 molecule.

Inert atmospheres of gases such as dinitrogen and argon are routinely used in chemical reactions where air sensitive and water sensitive compounds are handled.

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