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What are the applications of phosphorus?

A:

Quick Answer

The most wide spread use of phosphorus compounds is in the production of fertilizers. Phosphorus is an important plant nutrient that is vital to cell structure and development, as well as enzyme and reproductive balance. It has three main allotropes: black, red and white.

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Full Answer

White phosphorus is stored underwater because it spontaneously reacts when it comes in contact with air. It is mostly used in incendiary devices and flares, and is also used as a deoxidizing agent when preparing phosphor bronze or steel. Due to its poisonous properties, it is used to make smoke screens for warfare and rat poisons.

Red phosphorus is relatively stable and is less dangerous compared to white phosphorus. It is widely used in pesticides, fireworks and safety matches.

Black phosphorus is the least reactive phosphorus allotrope and has no notable commercial uses.

Phosphoric acid is used to create several phosphate compounds, like triple superphosphate fertilizer. It also used in soft drinks. Trisodium phosphate is used a water softener and cleaning agent. Calcium phosphate is used to produce baking powder and to manufacture fine china.

Phosphorus does not occur naturally as a free element; however, it can be found in a variety of minerals. It is commercially produced from phosphate rock (calcium phosphate).

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