What Does Nitrogen Do?

nitrogen Credit: Westend61/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Nitrogen is an important chemical element with a variety of different functions. It helps form compounds that are essential to life and it is required for living things to grow. Nitrogen is a vital part of amino acids, which are the small structures that help make up proteins. These proteins are important to all animals and plants. To be used, nitrogen usually needs to be combined with another element.

According to HowStuffWorks.com, nitrogen is a gas at room temperature and has no taste, odor, or color. It is the most common element in the earth's atmosphere. In living organisms, nitrogen serves many very important functions. Nitrogen can be found in certain types of algae and bacteria. Living things that require proteins need amino acids to build them. Typically nitrogen must combine with other elements to be utilized successfuly in other organisms.

Nitrogen has uses outside of biology as well. It can be harnessed and used in industrial settings. Nitrogen can replace air and create a stable atmosphere in places such as chemical processing plants and electronics manufacturing factories. Nitrogen is also used to increase the pressure in petroleum deposits, to rapidly freeze food products and as a vital component of photographic film and explosives.