carbonic acid

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carbonic acid A weak acid, H2CO3, formed in solution when carbon dioxide is dissolved in water: CO2 + H2O ↔ H2CO3

The acid is in equilibrium with dissolved carbon dioxide, and also dissociates into hydrogencarbonate and hydrogen ions. These reactions, catalysed by carbonic anhydrase, take place in the red blood cells when carbon dioxide diffuses into them from the surrounding tissue cells. See also hydrogencarbonate.

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carbonic acid, H2CO3, a weak dibasic acid (see acids and bases) formed when carbon dioxide dissolves in water; it exists only in solution. Carbonic acid forms carbonate and bicarbonate (or acid carbonate) salts (see carbonate) by reaction with bases. It contributes to the sharp taste of carbonated beverages.

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car·bon·ic ac·id • n. a very weak acid, H2CO3, formed in solution when carbon dioxide dissolves in water.