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Question Video: Determining the Chemical Equation for the Photochemical Decomposition of Ozone Chemistry

In the ozone–oxygen cycle, molecules of ozone (O₃) absorb ultraviolet light to split into oxygen gas and an individual atom of oxygen. What is the chemical equation for this reaction?

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Video Transcript

In the ozone–oxygen cycle, molecules of ozone, O3, absorb ultraviolet light to split into oxygen gas and an individual atom of oxygen. What is the chemical equation for this reaction?

In this problem, we need to identify the chemical equation for the decomposition of ozone. Before we begin to answer this question, we should first identify the chemical formula for each chemical substance within the question.

An individual oxygen atom has the chemical formula O, and oxygen gas is diatomic and has the chemical formula O2. Finally, ozone has the chemical formula O3. Let us now describe the decomposition process and determine the associated chemical equation.

The decomposition of ozone occurs as an ozone molecule absorbs high-energy ultraviolet radiation. The ozone molecule splits into diatomic oxygen gas and an oxygen atom as it absorbs this light energy. We can see that the O3 molecule is the reactant of this decomposition process, and the products are diatomic oxygen and an oxygen atom. The chemical equation for the decomposition process must have the O3 formula on the left side of the reaction arrow. It must have the O2 and O chemical formulas on the right side of the reaction arrow.

Therefore, the correct answer choice for the chemical equation is O3 yields O2 plus O.

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