What is Urea?
Urea also called carbamide, is carbonic acid diamide. Its formula is CH4N2O. Urea has important uses as fertilizer and feed supplement, as well as raw material for plastic and medicine production. It is a colorless, crystalline substance that melts at 132.7 °C (271 °F) and decomposes before boiling.
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Urea is the main end product of nitrogen in the metabolic breakdown of proteins in all mammals and some fish. This substance is present not only in the urine of all mammals but also in their blood, bile, milk and sweat. During the breakdown of proteins, amino groups (NH2) are removed from amino acids that form part of proteins. These amino groups are converted to ammonia (NH3), which is toxic to the body and therefore must be converted to urea by the liver. Urea is then transported to the kidneys and finally excreted in the urine.
- Urea has important uses as a fertilizer and food supplement, as well as a raw material for the production of plastic and medicine.
- It is an element in diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) that contains 32.5% urea and 67.5% deionized water. DEF is injected into the exhaust stream of diesel vehicles to break down dangerous NOx emissions into harmless nitrogen and water.
- A component of animal feed, it is a relatively inexpensive source of nitrogen to promote growth.
- It is considered a non-corrosive alternative to rock salt for road de-icing. It is often the main ingredient in pet-friendly salt alternatives, although it is less effective than traditional rock salt or calcium chloride.
- It is a main ingredient in the formulation of hair removal compounds such as Veet.
- It is one of the reasons for the brown color in the cans produced in the factory.
- It is an ingredient in some skin creams, moisturizers, hair conditioners and shampoos.
The use of urea as a chemical fertilizer
Because its nitrogen content is high and easily converted to ammonia soil, urea is one of the most concentrated nitrogen fertilizers. An inexpensive compound, it is also included in mixed fertilizers as well as applied alone to the soil or sprayed on the foliage.
With formaldehyde they give methylene urea fertilizers, which release nitrogen slowly, continuously and uniformly, applied once every year. The use of this material to make urea-formaldehyde resin is of secondary importance only in terms of its application as fertilizer.
Application of urea for meat protein production in animals
Although urea nitrogen is in non-protein form, it can be used by ruminant animals such as cattle and sheep, and an important part of the protein requirements of these animals can be provided in this way. Large amounts of this substance are also used for the synthesis of barbiturates.
It is used on an industrial scale to produce chemical fertilizers, medicine and resin. For example, this substance is one of the precursors of various barbiturates, which are widely used as sedatives and sleeping pills. This chemical is also used in the formation of polyurethane foams. Another important application is in the manufacture of resin and polymer.
This material can react with formaldehyde to make urea-formaldehyde resins, which are very important in molded plastics. Another product is melamine, which is formed by dehydration of urea and is primarily used in the production of melamine-formaldehyde resins, which are much harder and stain resistant than urea-formaldehyde resins. Both types of polymer resins have a wide variety of applications, including adhesives, laminations, molding compounds, coating and textile coatings.
Application in car systems
Urea is used in SNCR and SCR reactions to reduce NOx pollutants in combustion exhaust gases, for example, from power plants and diesel engines. The BlueTEC system, for example, injects a water-based urea solution into the exhaust system. Ammonia resulting from the decomposition of this substance reacts with the release of nitrogen oxide and is converted into nitrogen and water in the catalytic converter.
Application of urea in laboratories
Urea in concentrations of up to 10 M is a powerful protein scavenger because it disrupts non-covalent bonds in proteins. This property can be used to increase the solubility of some proteins.
Urea can be used as a source of hydrogen to produce electricity subsequently in a fuel cell. The production of hydrogen by the electrolysis of the solution of this material takes place at a lower voltage and uses less energy than the electrolysis of water.
Urea is used in topical skin products to strengthen body water. This medicine is also used as a means to remove ear hair.
Like salt, urea injection is used to induce abortion. Also, the main therapeutic agent is alternative medicine, which is called urea therapy.
The blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test measures the amount of nitrogen in the blood that comes from urea. It is used as an indicator of kidney function.
Application as antifreeze
Urea is a safe and non-corrosive alternative to antifreeze. This chemical is easily used on runways and pavements, as well as in other critical areas located under aircraft carriages that must always be protected from corrosion. Airports in many areas that cannot use highly corrosive salts for anti-icing operations use urea as a desirable alternative.
Different forms of urea
You can get urea fertilizer in the form of granules or tablets. Today, a significant amount of urea is produced in the form of granules. The granules are larger, harder and more resistant to moisture. As a result, granular urea has become a more suitable material for fertilizer mixture.
How to use and distribute urea
Urea can be applied in bulk, either alone or mixed with most other fertilizers. It is recommended not to exceed 50 feet in width when combined with other fertilizers. This formula often has a lower density than other fertilizers it is mixed with. This lack of weight has the benefit of less distance transfer when using fertilizer with rotary spreader equipment. This will lead to uneven growth of crops and wavy or streaked fields.