Difference Between Inert Gases and Noble Gases

Main Difference – Inert Gases vs Noble Gases

Substances can exist in three major physical states known as the solid state, liquid state, and the gaseous state. Gaseous state includes gases that are either elements or compounds. However, gases are composed of tiny particles that have minute masses. The attraction forces that exist between these gaseous particles are very less. Therefore, these particles are always in motion due to collisions that occur between particles. Gases are found as reactive gases and inert gases. Noble gases are a type of inert gas. The main difference between inert gases and noble gases is that inert gases do not undergo chemical reactions whereas noble gases can undergo chemical reactions at certain conditions.

Key Areas Covered

1. What are Inert Gases
      – Definition, Properties, Examples
2. What are Noble Gases
      – Definition, Properties, Examples
3. What is the Relationship Between Inert Gases and Noble Gases
      – Inert Gases and Noble Gases
4. What is the Difference Between Inert Gases and Noble Gases
      – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Inert Gas, Noble Gas, Hydrogen, Helium, Neon, Xenon, NitrogenDifference Between Inert Gases and Noble Gases - Comparison Summary

What are Inert Gases

Inert gasses are compounds that do not undergo chemical reactions. These are non-reactive gases. Inert gases can be elemental or can exist as compounds. Argon is a good example for an elemental inert gas. Nitrogen is considered as an inert gas most of the times. It is a compound composed of two nitrogen atoms.

The non-reactive behavior of inert gases arises due to the completed valence shells. In other words, the outermost electron shells of the atoms of these gases are completely filled. Thus, there is no need to further react with other chemical species since all other atoms react with other chemical species in order to become stable by filling all the electron shells or by removing electrons in the outermost shell in order to obtain a complete valence shell.

Difference Between Inert Gases and Noble Gases_Figure 01

Figure 01: Atomic Structure of Neon

Neon is an inert gas. It is composed of Neon atoms. Neon cannot undergo chemical reactions because its outermost shell is completely filled with electrons.

Inert gases are useful in situations where chemical reactions should be avoided. For example, using inert gases in food packages is safe since it prevents bacterial growth. Inert gases are also used to shield tungsten in welding in order to avoid any contamination.

What are Noble Gases

Noble gases are the chemical elements in the group18 of the periodic table. Therefore, there are 6 noble gases. They are He (Helium), Ne (Neon), Ar (Argon), Kr (Krypton), Xe (Xenon) and Rn (Radon). They show no or very low reactivity among other chemical elements. This is because the atoms of these elements have completely filled valence shells. Helium has only one s orbital. Thus, it has a maximum of 2 electrons in this orbital. Other elements have s and p shells which are completely filled with 8 electrons.

These elements are highly unreactive. But under extreme conditions, they can be made into compounds. All these gases are monoatomic gases under normal conditions. Even under extreme conditions, Helium and Neon do not participate chemical bonding. But, Argon, Krypton, Xenon are weakly reactive and can take part in compounds forming chemical bonds. Radon is found as a radioactive element.

Examples for Compounds Formed from Xenon:

Xenon hexafluoride (XeF6)Difference Between Inert Gases and Noble Gases

Xenon tetrafluoride (XeF4)Main Difference -  Inert Gases vs  Noble Gases

Xenon difluoride (XeF2)

Difference Between Inert Gases and Noble Gases_FIgure 04

Krypton can also form fluorides like Xenon. In addition, Krypton can be chemically bonded to other nonmetals like hydrogen, carbon and with transition metals like copper.

Relationship Between Inert Gases and Noble Gases

All noble gases are considered as inert gases under standard temperature and pressure conditions. But all inert gases are not noble gases.

Difference Between Inert Gases and Noble Gases

Definition

Inert Gases: Inert gasses are compounds that do not undergo chemical reactions.

Noble Gases: Noble gases are the chemical elements in the group 18 of the periodic table.

Gas Particles

Inert Gases: Inert gases can be composed of atoms or molecules.

Noble Gases: Noble gases are composed only of atoms. There are no molecules.

Chemical Reactivity

Inert Gases: Inert gases are chemically non-reactive.

Noble Gases: Noble gases are normally non-reactive, but can be reactive under extreme conditions.

Elements

Inert Gases: Inert gases include all the noble gases and some other inert gaseous compounds.

Noble Gases: Noble gases are elements in the group 18 of the periodic table.

Conclusion

Both inert gases and noble gases are non-reactive under normal conditions. But noble gases can make chemical bonds under specific conditions. Extreme conditions are required for this because these atoms or compounds are composed of outermost shells that are completely filled with electrons. However, all noble gases are inert gases but all inert gases are not noble gases. This is the difference between inert gases and noble gases.

References:

1. “Inert gas.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 20 July 2017. Web. Available here. 01 Aug. 2017. 
2. “Inert gases.”Study.com, n.d. Web. Available here. 01 Aug. 2017. 

Image Courtesy:

1. “Electron shell 010 Neon – no label” By commons: User:Pumbaa (original work by commons:User:Greg Robson) – corresponding labeled version (CC BY-SA 2.0 uk) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Madhusha

Madhusha is a BSc (Hons) graduate in the field of Biological Sciences and is currently pursuing for her Masters in Industrial and Environmental Chemistry. Her interest areas for writing and research include Biochemistry and Environmental Chemistry.

Leave a Comment