Phosphate vs. Phosphorus

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Phosphate and Phosphorus is that the Phosphate is a salt or ester of phosphoric acid and Phosphorus is a chemical element with the atomic number of 15.

  • Phosphate

    A phosphate is a chemical derivative of phosphoric acid. The phosphate ion (PO3−4) is an inorganic chemical, the conjugate base that can form many different salts. In organic chemistry, a phosphate, or organophosphate, is an ester of phosphoric acid. Of the various phosphoric acids and phosphates, organic phosphates are important in biochemistry and biogeochemistry (and, consequently, in ecology), and inorganic phosphates are mined to obtain phosphorus for use in agriculture and industry. At elevated temperatures in the solid state, phosphates can condense to form pyrophosphates.

    In biology, adding phosphates to—and removing them from—proteins in cells are both pivotal in the regulation of metabolic processes. Referred to as phosphorylation and dephosphorylation, respectively, they are important ways that energy is stored and released in living systems.

  • Phosphorus

    Phosphorus is a chemical element with symbol P and atomic number 15. Elemental phosphorus exists in two major forms, white phosphorus and red phosphorus, but because it is highly reactive, phosphorus is never found as a free element on Earth. It has a concentration in the Earth’s crust of about one gram per kilogram (compare copper at about 0.06 grams). With few exceptions, minerals containing phosphorus are in the maximally oxidized state as inorganic phosphate rocks.

    Elemental phosphorus was first isolated (as white phosphorus) in 1669 and emitted a faint glow when exposed to oxygen – hence the name, taken from Greek mythology, Φωσφόρος meaning “light-bearer” (Latin Lucifer), referring to the “Morning Star”, the planet Venus. The term “phosphorescence”, meaning glow after illumination, derives from this property of phosphorus, although the word has since been used for a different physical process that produces a glow. The glow of phosphorus is caused by oxidation of the white (but not red) phosphorus — a process now called chemiluminescence. Together with nitrogen, arsenic, antimony, and bismuth, phosphorus is classified as a pnictogen.

    Phosphorus is essential for life. Phosphates (compounds containing the phosphate ion, PO43−) are a component of DNA, RNA, ATP, and phospholipids. Elemental phosphorus was first isolated from human urine, and bone ash was an important early phosphate source. Phosphate mines contain fossils because phosphate is present in the fossilized deposits of animal remains and excreta. Low phosphate levels are an important limit to growth in some aquatic systems. The vast majority of phosphorus compounds mined are consumed as fertilisers. Phosphate is needed to replace the phosphorus that plants remove from the soil, and its annual demand is rising nearly twice as fast as the growth of the human population. Other applications include organophosphorus compounds in detergents, pesticides, and nerve agents.

  • Phosphate (noun)

    Any salt or ester of phosphoric acid.

  • Phosphate (noun)

    A carbonated soft drink sweetened with fruit syrup and with some phosphoric acid.

  • Phosphate (verb)

    To treat or coat with a phosphate or with phosphoric acid

  • Phosphorus (noun)

    a chemical element (symbol P) with an atomic number of 15, that exists in several allotropic forms.

  • Phosphorus (noun)

    any substance exhibiting phosphorescence; a phosphor

  • Phosphate (noun)

    a salt or ester of phosphoric acid, containing PO₄³⁻ or a related anion or a group such as —OPO(OH)₂.

  • Phosphate (noun)

    an effervescent soft drink containing phosphoric acid, soda water, and flavouring.

  • Phosphorus (noun)

    the chemical element of atomic number 15, a poisonous, combustible non-metal which exists in two common allotropic forms, white phosphorus, a yellowish waxy solid which ignites spontaneously in air and glows in the dark, and red phosphorus, a less reactive form used in making matches.

Oxford Dictionary

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