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Hydrazine

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Definition

noun

(1) An inorganic compound with a formula, N2H4; diamine

(2) (chemistry) A colorless, fuming, hygroscopic liquid used mainly as a reducing agent


Supplement

Hydrazine is an important chemical compound because of its many uses. It is used as a precursor to pesticides, pharmaceuticals (e.g. isoniazid and fluconazole), industrial textile dyes, and blowing agents. It is also used as a propellant on board space vehicles, as polymerization catalyst in the production of spandex fibers, and as heat stabilizers. However, hydrazine is highly toxic and unstable, particularly when in anhydrous form. Short-term exposure to high concentration of hydrazine may lead to serious damage to liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. Common symptoms include nausea, headache, dizziness, seizures, coma, and pulmonary edema.

While hydrazine is largely known to be artificially produced, it was later found to be produced biologically. Natural hydrazine is produced by anammox bacteria (Brocadia anammoxidans). Upon consumption of ammonia, anammox bacteria bind hydrazine with a fatty-acid membrane and store it inside a specialized cell structure akin to mitochondrion (i.e. the powerhouse of the cell of eukaryotes).1


Synonym(s):

  • diazane
  • diamide
  • diamidogen

Related term(s):

Reference(s):
1 Handwerk, B. (2005, November 9). Bacteria Eat Human Sewage, Produce Rocket Fuel. Daily Nature and Science News and Headlines | National Geographic News . Retrieved July 1, 2013, from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/11/1109_051109_rocketfuel.html