Decomposition Reaction: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 Decomposition Reaction Defined
  • 0:35 Examples of…
  • 1:49 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derrick Arrington

Derrick has taught biology and chemistry at both the high school and college level. He has a master's degree in science education.

Chemical reactions are classified into several different categories. In this lesson, you will learn about decomposition reactions so you can describe and identify them in the future.

Decomposition Reaction Defined

A chemical reaction is a process by which the atoms of one or more substances are rearranged to form different substances. There are many types of chemical reactions. These reactions are often classified by what they form or what happens during the course of the reaction.

A decomposition reaction is a type of chemical reaction in which a single compound breaks down into two or more elements or new compounds. These reactions often involve an energy source such as heat, light, or electricity that breaks apart the bonds of compounds.

Decomposition Reaction
Decomp React

Examples of Decomposition Reactions

A simple way to visualize a decomposition reaction is to use generic terms. Let's pretend we have discovered an elusive compound with the chemical formula 'AZ.' This means the compound is composed of an imaginary element 'A' bonded to imaginary element 'Z.' If we have a reaction equation that says 'AZ' yields 'A' + 'Z,' it shows a decomposition reaction. This decomposition reaction example breaks one compound down into two elements.

Decomposition reactions can also involve large compounds being broken down into smaller compounds, rather than being broken down into single elements. For example, the compound ammonium nitrate readily decomposes into dinitrogen monoxide and water.

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