protonation prō´tənā˝shən [key], in chemistry, addition of a proton to an atom, molecule, or ion. The proton is the nucleus of the hydrogen atom; the positive hydrogen ion, H +, consists of a single proton. An example of protonation is the formation of the ammonium group NH 4 + from ammonia, NH 3. Protonation often occurs in the reaction of an acid with a base to form a salt (see acids and bases ; salts ). Protonation differs from hydrogenation in that during protonation a change in charge of the protonated species occurs, whereas the charge is unaffected during hydrogenation.
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