Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, toxic gas at room temperature, somewhat lighter than air. It cannot be easily liquefied. Carbon monoxide is much more reactive than carbon dioxide. At higher temperatures, it reacts with various non-metals and metals. It is combustible; in the presence of oxygen, it can be further oxidised into carbon dioxide. Carbon monoxide is toxic; if it enters the bloodstream, it combines with haemoglobin, which then cannot carry enough oxygen. This may lead to cell death in the body. The carbon monoxide molecule consists of a carbon atom and an oxygen atom, with one dative covalent bond formed by two electrons provided by the oxygen atom.
Occurrence and production
Carbon monoxide is produced during the combustion of carbon compounds in the presence of a little oxygen as well as in the sea by bacterial processes. In laboratories, it is produced in a reaction of formic acid and sulphuric acid.
It is used in industrial quantities to manufacture methanol and isobutyl oil, to reduce ores and to produce metals of high purity.