A question regarding oxidation numbers

  • Thread starter espen180
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  • #1
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How come atoms have only a few oxidation numbers they can assume? For example, Cl can have the oxidation numbers -1, 1, 3, 5, 7. What prevents it from having an oxidation number of say, 2 or 4?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
alxm
Science Advisor
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Nothing prevents it. It's just energetically unfavorable. That is, the other states have significantly lower energy.

You can really dive in here with how 'deeply' you want to explain it, but to just give the cursory, simplest answer: Chlorine has an odd number of valence electrons (7). If it gained or lost an even number, it'd still have an odd number. The resulting compound would be a radical, which are generally high in energy.
 
  • #4
834
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I get it now. Thanks for the help.
 

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