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Explanation of oxidation number and reduction

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1) What is the oxidation number of nitrogen in N2O4 (dinitrogen tetraoxide?

First, it has no charge; therefore N2 + 4(-2) = 0
N2 = 8, and thus N = +4. Is this right or wrong? Someone told me N = +2?

2) Nickel(II) nitrate is reduced to nickel metal in an oxidation-reduction reaction. Which is true?

a Nickel ion gains 2 electrons.
b Nickel ion loses 2 electrons.
c Nickel ion gains 1 electrons.
d Nickel ion loses 1 electrons.
e Nickel metal gain 2 electrons.
f Nickel metal loses 2 electrons.

Now I solved this by saying Ni(NO-)2. then set = to 0. and went from their, but got wrong answer. I got N=5, Ni=+1, Ni=+2, O=-6. My answer was C, but wrong.
Using the set everything = to a 0 charge and figure out each number for each element show me step by step how to set this up and get the right answer. Also, what is the difference between a nickel ion and nickel metal?

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Solution Preview

To 1): You have calculated correctly. The oxidation number of N = +4

To 2.)

As the formula Nickel(II) nitrate indicates Nickel is an ion with the charge +2.
Roman letters in brackets show the number of electrons the metal has lost / given to another atom.
These electrons are transferred to other ...

Solution Summary

The oxidation number of N in N2O4 is given without further explanation.
A step-by-step explanation for reduction of Ni 2+ is given with explanation of the difference of 'metal' and 'metal ion'