Understanding Corrosion in Water Pipelines: A Guide for Pipeline Designers


Oxidizing Agent

Reviewed by Raghvendra GopalCheckmark
Last updated: June 17, 2022

What Does Oxidizing Agent Mean?

An oxidizing agent is a compound or element that is present in a redox (oxidation-reduction) reaction which receives electrons originating from a different species.

The oxidant is a chemical compound which easily transfers atoms of oxygen or another substance in order to gain an electron. If one agent in the reaction releases oxygen or gains electrons or hydrogen, it is considered an oxidizer. The oxidizer is reduced as it takes on electrons. However, the reactant undergoes oxidation by letting its electrons be captured by the oxidizer. Oxygen is the eponymous example of an oxidizing agent.

Corrosion is a type of oxidation that occurs through a galvanic process where the metals deteriorates, although not always to their oxides. Corrosion occurs when the metal atoms on the surface of a metal gets oxidized in the presence of oxygen and water. The entire corrosion process is dependant on an anodic and cathodic reaction taking place simultaneously. The anodic reaction is what causes the metal to dissolve. In order for the cathodic reaction to occur an oxidizing agent must be present.

In a case where most or all of the atoms on the same metal surface are oxidized, corrosion occurs, damaging the entire surface. Metals are known for the most part to be easily oxidized as they tend to lose electrons to oxygen as well as other substances in the air or in water. During this process, as oxygen is reduced, it forms an oxide with the metal.

An oxidizing agent is also known as an oxidizer or oxidant.


Corrosionpedia Explains Oxidizing Agent

An oxidizing agent is a reactant which removes electrons from other reactants when a redox reaction occurs. The oxidizing agent typically takes these electrons for itself, gains electrons and gets reduced. An oxidizing agent is therefore an electron acceptor. An oxidizing agent may also be seen as capable of transferring electronegative atoms (particularly oxygen) to a substrate.

An oxidizing agent takes an electron from other agents and then undergoes reduction itself, while the reducing species gives off electrons to other agents and is itself oxidized. Each molecular atom has a corresponding oxidation number. This number varies when a certain oxidizer reacts on a given substrate. In this equation, redox reactions take place when states of oxidation of the reactants undergo transformation.

Reduction and oxidation are two symmetric processes that always take place together. In the presence of an oxidizing agent is a reducing agent as well. Both are always present, and if oxidation is desired, it is beneficial to make use of an agent that will complete the oxidation process. Some useful oxidizers are antiseptics like hydrogen peroxide and bleaches. One drawback of oxidation is the oxygen action in the process of metal corrosion.

Some of the best oxidizing agents include:

  • Oxygen.
  • Hydrogen peroxide.
  • Sulfuric acid.
  • Nitrous oxide.
  • Peroxydisulfuric acid.
  • Potassium nitrate.

An oxidizer is a substance that is not that combustible, but can possibly release oxygen and will contribute to a certain materials' combustion. Due to this, there are materials categorized as dangerous oxidizing agents although there are also those that are not considered dangerous.

There are two types of oxydizing agents. The first one, called class 5 division 5.1, refers to oxidizers that possibly yield oxygen, enhancing chances for combustion. The second category, class 5 division 5.2, refers to oxidizers that ignite on impulse.

In the process of the reaction that results in rusting, oxygen acts as the oxidising agent while iron acts as the reducing agent. If oxidation of a metal object is not controlled, it can destroy the object. At times the oxidation process can form an insulating protective layer that serves as effective protection from further damage to the metal. Corrosion is caused by wet or humid conditions, whereas oxidation usually occurs naturally when air reacts with metals.





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