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Ionized air principles? Answered

I've looked throughout the internet, but I still haven't been able to figure out this one

When air conducts electricity, say when lightning strikes, the electrical field breaks down air molecules...
So, it breaks the intramolecular bonds between gas atoms in nitrogen molecules, oxygen molecules, etc.
The atoms are then ionised. But then somewhere, I got the information that ionised air contains BOTH positive AND negative ions.
How is this possible if the gases are non-metal elements and only form negative ions??
When an electrical current does flow, what carries the charge? The negative air ions? or electrons? 
I've found sites that say one, and sites that say another.

Thanks in advance

4 Replies

lemonieBest Answer (author)2012-02-23

It's a plasma.
If you split N2 or O2 heterolytically you get N+ N- or O+ O-.

And anything with an electrical-charge will carry current (including negative air ions & electrons).


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.Unknown. (author)lemonie2012-02-24

Thanks for clearing that up for me so quickly

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iceng (author)2012-02-23

Lightning can create O3 Ozone from diatonic Oxygen gas O2..
Lightning also strips electrons from the atoms of gas leaving
behind positively charged ionic atoms.

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steveastrouk (author)2012-02-23

Positive and negative ions carry current in ionised gases.

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