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Inorganic compound, colourless, fuming, highly corrosive liquid, chemical formula HNO. A common laboratory reagent, it is important in the manufacture of fertilizers and explosives (including nitroglycerin), as well as in organic syntheses, metallurgy, ore flotation, and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. A strong acid, it is toxic and can cause severe burns. It attacks most metals and is used for etching steel and photoengraving.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on nitric acid, visit Britannica.com.