CYANOGEN (Gr. KVO.VOS, blue yevvav, to produce), C 2 N 2 , in chemistry, a gas composed of carbon and nitrogen. The name was suggested by Prussian blue, the earliest known compound of "cyanogen. It was first isolated in 1815 by J. Gay- Lussac, who obtained it by heating mercury or silver cyanide; this discovery is of considerable historical importance, since it recorded the isolation of a " compound radical." It may also be prepared by heating ammonium oxalate; by passing induction sparks between carbon points in an atmosphere of nitrogen (see H. von Wartenburg, Abs. J.C.S., 1907, i. p. 299), or by the addition of a concentrated solution of potassium cyanide to one of copper sulphate, the mixed solutions being then heated. It also occurs in blast-furnace gases. When cyanogen is prepared by heating mercuric cyanide, a residue known as para-cyanogen, (CN)z, is left; this is to be regarded as a polymer of cyanogen. It is a brownish amorphous solid, which is insoluble in water. Cyanogen is a colourless gas, possessing a peculiar characteristic smell, and is very poisonous. It burns with a purple flame, forming carbon dioxide and nitrogen; and may be condensed (by cooling to -25 C.) to a colourless liquid, and further to a solid, which melts at -34-4 C. (M. Faraday, Ann., 1845, 56, p. 158). It dissolves readily in water and the aqueous solution decomposes on standing; a dark-brown flocculent precipitate of azulmic acid, C^sNsO, separating whilst ammonium oxalate, urea and hydrocyanic acid are found in the solution. In many respects it resembles chlorine in its chemical behaviour, a circumstance noted by Gay-Lussac; it combines directly with hydrogen (at 500 to 550 C.) to form hydrocyanic acid, and with chlorine, bromine, iodine and sulphur, to form cyanogen chloride, etc.; it also combines directly with zinc, cadmium and iron to form cyanides of these metals. It combines with sulphuretted hydrogen, in the presence of water, to form the compound C 2 N 2 -H 2 S, and in the presence of alcohol, to form the compound C2N 2 -2H 2 S. Concentrated hydrochloric acid converts it into oxamide. Potash solution converts it into a mixture of potassium cyanide and cyanate. When heated with hydriodic acid (specific gravity 1-96) it forms amino-acetic acid, and with tin and hydrochloric acid it yields ethylene diamine.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)