What is Oxygen?
Oxygen: the ubiquitous element all around us
A very reactive element, oxygen (O) belongs to the non-metals family in the periodic table which consists of elements such as carbon (C). Oxygen is the most common element found in the Earth's crust just ahead of silicon (Si) but also the main constituent of the oceans and of sand. In nature, it is found in different forms: a gas in the atmosphere, a liquid in water, a solid in rock.
Discovered almost simultaneously by Carl Wilhelm Scheele and Joseph Priestley at the end of the Age of Enlightenment, oxygen was only baptized in 1777 by Antoine Lavoisier who realized that it was an element playing an essential role in combustion. In Greek, its name means acid.
One of the most abundant elements in the universe, oxygen reacts with the vast majority of other elements of the periodic table to form oxides.
In industry, it is chiefly used to manufacture metals – notably steel – and to produce chemicals. It is also used to disinfect water, sterilize medical equipment or bleach textiles and paper pulp.
Oxygen is at the origin of life and account for 60% of the mass of the human body. Although it plays a vital role in the respiration of living organisms, it accelerates their ageing by damaging their cells. This is why many cosmetic products claim to be anti-oxidants with the principal goal of neutralizing its harmful effects and preserving the beauty of the skin.
The power of peroxides in our daily life
Peroxygens have an invisible, yet substantial presence in our everyday lives from the food and water we consume, to the products we love, to the personal care items we buy for our families. Solvay provides powerful and effective solutions that act rapidly and breakdown into environmentally-friendly, organic elements. Its impressive portfolio of Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) and Peracetic Acid (PAA) peroxygen solutions leads the industry in a wide variety of markets and applications such as pulp & paper, water treatment, mining, aquaculture, etc.