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Carbon forms two well-known oxides, carbon monoxide, CO, and carbon dioxide, CO2. In addition, it also forms carbon suboxide, C3O2.Carbon monoxide Carbon monoxide is produced when graphite (one of the naturally occurring forms of elemental carbon) is heated or burned in a limited amount of oxygen. The reaction of steam with red-hot coke also produces carbon monoxide along with hydrogen gas (H2). (Coke is the impure carbon residue resulting from the burning of coal.) This mixture of CO and H2 is called water gas and is used as an industrial fuel. In the laboratory, carbon monoxide is prepared by heating formic acid, HCOOH, or oxalic acid, H2C2O4, with concentrated sulfuric acid, H2SO4. The sulfuric acid removes the elements of water (i.e., H2O) from the formic or oxalic acid and absorbs the water produced. Because carbon monoxide burns readily in oxygen to produce carbon dioxide,2CO + O2 ® 2CO2, it is useful as a gaseous fuel. It is also useful as a metallurgical reducing agent because at high temperatures it reduces many metal oxides to the elemental metal. For example, copper(II) oxide, CuO, and iron(III) oxide, Fe2O3, are both reduced to the metal by carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is an extremely dangerous poison. Because it is an odourless and tasteless gas, it gives no warning of its presence. It binds to the hemoglobin in blood to form a compound that is so stable that it cannot be broken down by body processes. When the hemoglobin is combined with carbon monoxide, it cannot combine with oxygen; this destroys the ability of hemoglobin to carry essential oxygen to all parts of the body. Suffocation can occur if sufficient amounts of carbon monoxide are present to form complexes with the hemoglobin.