(Fe2+), in chemistry, indicates a divalent iron compound (+2 oxidation state), as opposed to ferric, which indicates a trivalent iron compound (+3 oxidation state). This usage has mostly been deprecated, with current IUPAC nomenclature having names containing the oxidation state in bracketed Roman numerals instead, such as iron(II) oxide for ferrous oxide (FeO), and iron(III) oxide for ferric oxide (Fe2O3).
Outside chemistry, ferrous is an adjective used to indicate the presence of iron. The word is derived from the Latin word ferrum ("iron"). Ferrous metals include steel and pig iron (with a carbon content of a few percent) and alloys of iron with other metals (such as stainless steel). Manipulation of atom-to-atom relationships between iron, carbon, and various alloying elements establishes the specific properties of ferrous metals.
Steelmaking is the process for producing steel from iron and ferrous scrap. In steelmaking, impurities such as nitrogen, silicon, phosphorus, and excess carbon are removed from the raw iron, and alloying elements such as manganese, nickel, chromium and vanadium are added to produce different grades of steel. Limiting dissolved gases such as nitrogen and oxygen, and entrained impurities (termed "inclusions") in the steel is also important to ensure the quality of the products cast from the liquid steel. There are two major processes for making steel, namely basic oxygen steelmaking which has liquid pig-iron from the blast furnace and scrap steel as the main feed materials, and electric arc furnace (EAF) steelmaking which uses scrap steel or direct reduced iron (DRI) as the main feed materials. Oxygen steelmaking is fuelled predominantly by the exothermic nature of the reactions inside the vessel where as in EAF steelmaking, electrical energy is used to melt the solid scrap and/or DRI materials. In recent times, EAF steelmaking technology has evolved closer to oxygen steelmaking as more chemical energy is introduced into the process. In metallurgy, stainless steel, also known as inox steel or inox from French "inoxydable", is a steel alloy with a minimum of 10.5% chromium content by mass.
Stainless steel does not readily corrode, rust or stain with water as ordinary steel does, but despite the name it is not fully stain-proof, most notably under low-oxygen, high-salinity, or poor-circulation environments. There are different grades and surface finishes of stainless steel to suit the environment the alloy must endure. Stainless steel is used where both the properties of steel and corrosion resistance are required.
Stainless steel differs from carbon steel by the amount of chromium present. Unprotected carbon steel rusts readily when exposed to air and moisture. This iron oxide film (the rust) is active and accelerates corrosion by forming more iron oxide, and due to the greater volume of the iron oxide this tends to flake and fall away. Stainless steels contain sufficient chromium to form a passive film of chromium oxide, which prevents further surface corrosion by blocking oxygen diffusion to the steel surface and blocks corrosion from spreading into the metal's internal structure, and due to the similar size of the steel and oxide ions they bond very strongly and remain attached to the surface.
Passivation only occurs if the proportion of chromium is high enough and oxygen is present.
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe (from Latin: ferrum) and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is by mass the most common element on Earth, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust. Its abundance in rocky planets like Earth is due to its abundant production by fusion in high-mass stars, where the production of nickel-56 (which decays to the most common isotope of iron) is the last nuclear fusion reaction that is exothermic. Consequently, radioactive nickel is the last element to be produced before the violent collapse of a supernova scatters precursor radionuclide of iron into space.
Like other group 8 elements, iron exists in a wide range of oxidation states, −2 to +6, although +2 and +3 are the most common. Elemental iron occurs in meteoroids and other low oxygen environments, but is reactive to oxygen and water. Fresh iron surfaces appear lustrous silvery-gray, but oxidize in normal air to give hydrated iron oxides, commonly known as rust. Unlike many other metals which form passivating oxide layers, iron oxides occupy more volume than the metal and thus flake off, exposing fresh surfaces for corrosion.
Iron metal has been used since ancient times, though copper alloys, which have lower melting temperatures, were used even earlier in human history. Pure iron is soft (softer than aluminium)[clarification needed], but is unobtainable by smelting. The material is significantly hardened and strengthened by impurities, in particular carbon, from the smelting process. A certain proportion of carbon (between 0.002% and 2.1%) produces steel, which may be up to 1000 times harder than pure iron. Crude iron metal is produced in blast furnaces, where ore is reduced by coke to pig iron, which has a high carbon content. Further refinement with oxygen reduces the carbon content to the correct proportion to make steel. Steels and low carbon iron alloys along with other metals (alloy steels) are by far the most common metals in industrial use, due to their great range of desirable properties and the abundance of iron.
Iron chemical compounds have many uses. Iron oxide mixed with aluminium powder can be ignited to create a thermite reaction, used in welding and purifying ores. Iron forms binary compounds with the halogens and the chalcogens. Among its organometallic compounds is ferrocene, the first sandwich compound discovered.
Iron plays an important role in biology, forming complexes with molecular oxygen in hemoglobin and myoglobin; these two compounds are common oxygen transport proteins in vertebrates. Iron is also the metal used at the active site of many important redox enzymes dealing with cellular respiration and oxidation and reduction in plants and animals.
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In metallurgy, a non-ferrous metal is any metal, including alloys, that does not contain iron in appreciable amounts. Generally more expensive than ferrous metals, non-ferrous metals are used because of desirable properties such as low weight (e.g., aluminium), higher conductivity (e.g., copper), non-magnetic property or resistance to corrosion (e.g., zinc). Some non-ferrous materials are also used in the iron and steel industries. For example, bauxite is used as flux for blast furnaces, while others such as wolframite, pyrolusite and chromite are used in making ferrous alloys.
Important non-ferrous metals include aluminium, copper, lead, nickel, tin, titanium and zinc, and alloys such as brass. Precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum and exotic or rare metals such as cobalt, mercury, tungsten, beryllium, bismuth, cerium, cadmium, niobium, indium, gallium, germanium, lithium, selenium, tantalum, tellurium, vanadium, and zirconium are also non-ferrous. They are usually obtained through minerals such as sulfides, carbonates, and silicates. Non-ferrous metals are usually refined through electrolysis.
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu (from Latin: cuprum) and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; a freshly exposed surface has a reddish-orange color. It is used as a conductor of heat and electricity, a building material, and a constituent of various metal alloys.
The metal and its alloys have been used for thousands of years. In the Roman era, copper was principally mined on Cyprus, hence the origin of the name of the metal as сyprium (metal of Cyprus), later shortened to сuprum. Its compounds are commonly encountered as copper(II) salts, which often impart blue or green colors to minerals such as azurite and turquoise and have been widely used historically as pigments. Architectural structures built with copper corrode to give green verdigris (or patina). Decorative art prominently features copper, both by itself and as part of pigments.
Copper is essential to all living organisms as a trace dietary mineral because it is a key constituent of the respiratory enzyme complex cytochrome c oxidase. In molluscs and crustacea copper is a constituent of the blood pigment hemocyanin, which is replaced by the iron-complexed hemoglobin in fish and other vertebrates. The main areas where copper is found in humans are liver, muscle and bone. Copper compounds are used as bacteriostatic substances, fungicides, and wood preservatives.
Brass is an alloy made of copper and zinc; the proportions of zinc and copper can be varied to create a range of brasses with varying properties. It is a substitutional alloy: atoms of the two constituents may replace each other within the same crystal structure.
By comparison, bronze is principally an alloy of copper and tin. Bronze does not necessarily contain tin, and a variety of alloys of copper, including alloys with arsenic, phosphorus, aluminium, manganese, and silicon, are commonly termed "bronze". The term is applied to a variety of brasses and the distinction is largely historical, and modern practice in museums and archaeology is increasingly to avoid both terms for historical objects in favour of the all-embracing "copper alloy".
Brass is used for decoration for its bright gold-like appearance; for applications where low friction is required such as locks, gears, bearings, doorknobs, ammunition casings and valves; for plumbing and electrical applications; and extensively in brass musical instruments such as horns and bells for its acoustic properties. It is also used in zippers. Brass is often used in situations where it is important that sparks not be struck, as in fittings and tools around explosive gases.
Lead (/lɛd/) is a chemical element in the carbon group with symbol Pb (from Latin: plumbum) and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft and malleable metal, which is regarded as a heavy metal and a post-transition metal. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed to air. Lead has a shiny chrome-silver luster when it is melted into a liquid. It is also the heaviest non-radioactive element.
Lead is used in building construction, lead-acid batteries, bullets and shot, weights, as part of solders, pewters, fusible alloys, and as a radiation shield. Lead has the highest atomic number of all of the stable elements, although the next higher element, bismuth, has a half-life that is so long (over one billion times the estimated age of the universe) that it can be considered stable. Its four stable isotopes have 82 protons, a magic number in the nuclear shell model of atomic nuclei. The isotope 208
Pb is double magic.
If ingested, lead is poisonous to animals, including humans. It damages the nervous system and causes brain disorders. Excessive lead also causes blood disorders in mammals. Like the element mercury, another heavy metal, lead is a neurotoxin that accumulates both in soft tissues and the bones. Lead poisoning has been documented from ancient Rome, ancient Greece, and ancient China.
Zinc, in commerce also spelter, is a metallic chemical element; it has the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element of group 12 of the periodic table. In some respects zinc is chemically similar to magnesium: its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2. Zinc is the 24th most abundant element in the Earth's crust and has five stable isotopes. The most common zinc ore is sphalerite (zinc blende), a zinc sulfide mineral. The largest mineable amounts are found in Australia, Asia, and the United States. Zinc production includes froth flotation of the ore, roasting, and final extraction using electricity (electrowinning).
Brass, which is an alloy of copper and zinc, has been used since at least the 10th century BC in Judea and by the 7th century BC in Ancient Greece. Zinc metal was not produced on a large scale until the 12th century in India and was unknown to Europe until the end of the 16th century. The mines of Rajasthan have given definite evidence of zinc production going back to 6th century BC. To date, the oldest evidence of pure zinc comes from Zawar, in Rajasthan, as early as the 9th century AD when a distillation process was employed to make pure zinc. Alchemists burned zinc in air to form what they called "philosopher's wool" or "white snow".
The element was probably named by the alchemist Paracelsus after the German word Zinke. German chemist Andreas Sigismund Marggraf is normally given credit in the Western world for discovering pure metallic zinc in 1746. Work by Luigi Galvani and Alessandro Volta uncovered the electrochemical properties of zinc by 1800. Corrosion-resistant zinc plating of iron (hot-dip galvanizing) is the major application for zinc. Other applications are in batteries, small non-structural castings, and alloys, such as brass. A variety of zinc compounds are commonly used, such as zinc carbonate and zinc gluconate (as dietary supplements), zinc chloride (in deodorants), zinc pyrithione (anti-dandruff shampoos), zinc sulfide (in luminescent paints), and zinc methyl or zinc diethyl in the organic laboratory.
Zinc is an essential mineral of "exceptional biologic and public health importance". Zinc deficiency affects about two billion people in the developing world and is associated with many diseases. In children it causes growth retardation, delayed sexual maturation, infection susceptibility, and diarrhea, contributing to the death of about 800,000 children worldwide per year. Enzymes with a zinc atom in the reactive center are widespread in biochemistry, such as alcohol dehydrogenase in humans. Consumption of excess zinc can cause ataxia, lethargy and copper deficiency.
Tin is a chemical element with symbol Sn (for Latin: stannum) and atomic number 50. It is a main group metal in group 14 of the periodic table. Tin shows chemical similarity to both neighboring group-14 elements, germanium and lead, and has two possible oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4. Tin is the 49th most abundant element and has, with 10 stable isotopes, the largest number of stable isotopes in the periodic table. Tin is obtained chiefly from the mineral cassiterite, where it occurs as tin dioxide, SnO2.
This silvery, malleable other metal is not easily oxidized in air and is used to coat other metals to prevent corrosion. The first alloy, used in large scale since 3000 BC, was bronze, an alloy of tin and copper. After 600 BC pure metallic tin was produced. Pewter, which is an alloy of 85-90% tin with the remainder commonly consisting of copper, antimony and lead, was used for flatware from the Bronze Age until the 20th century. In modern times tin is used in many alloys, most notably tin/lead soft solders, typically containing 60% or more of tin. Another large application for tin is corrosion-resistant tin plating of steel. Because of its low toxicity, tin-plated metal is also used for food packaging, giving the name to tin cans, which are made mostly of steel.
Lithium (from Greek: λίθος lithos, "stone") is a chemical element with symbol Li and atomic number 3. It is a soft, silver-white metal belonging to the alkali metal group of chemical elements. Under standard conditions it is the lightest metal and the least dense solid element. Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly reactive and flammable. For this reason, it is typically stored in mineral oil. When cut open, lithium exhibits a metallic luster, but contact with moist air corrodes the surface quickly to a dull silvery gray, then black tarnish. Because of its high reactivity, lithium never occurs freely in nature, and instead, only appears in compounds, which are usually ionic. Lithium occurs in a number of pegmatitic minerals, but due to its solubility as an ion, is present in ocean water and is commonly obtained from brines and clays. On a commercial scale, lithium is isolated electrolytically from a mixture of lithium chloride and potassium chloride.
The nuclei of lithium verge on instability, since the two stable lithium isotopes found in nature have among the lowest binding energies per nucleon of all stable nuclides. Because of its relative nuclear instability, lithium is less common in the solar system than 25 of the first 32 chemical elements even though the nuclei are very light in atomic weight. For related reasons, lithium has important links to nuclear physics. The transmutation of lithium atoms to helium in 1932 was the first fully man-made nuclear reaction, and lithium-6 deuteride serves as a fusion fuel in staged thermonuclear weapons.
Lithium and its compounds have several industrial applications, including heat-resistant glass and ceramics, high strength-to-weight alloys used in aircraft, lithium batteries and lithium-ion batteries. These uses consume more than half of lithium production.
Trace amounts of lithium are present in all organisms. The element serves no apparent vital biological function, since animals and plants survive in good health without it. Non-vital functions have not been ruled out. The lithium ion Li+ administered as any of several lithium salts has proved to be useful as a mood-stabilizing drug in the treatment of bipolar disorder, due to neurological effects of the ion in the human body.
Titanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ti and atomic number 22. It is a lustrous transition metal with a silver color, low density and high strength. It is highly resistant to corrosion in sea water, aqua regia and chlorine.
Titanium was discovered in Cornwall, Great Britain, by William Gregor in 1791 and named by Martin Heinrich Klaproth for the Titans of Greek mythology. The element occurs within a number of mineral deposits, principally rutile and ilmenite, which are widely distributed in the Earth's crust and lithosphere, and it is found in almost all living things, rocks, water bodies, and soils. The metal is extracted from its principal mineral ores via the Kroll process or the Hunter process. Its most common compound, titanium dioxide, is a popular photocatalyst and is used in the manufacture of white pigments. Other compounds include titanium tetrachloride (TiCl4), a component of smoke screens and catalysts; and titanium trichloride (TiCl3), which is used as a catalyst in the production of polypropylene.
Titanium can be alloyed with iron, aluminium, vanadium, and molybdenum, among other elements, to produce strong, lightweight alloys for aerospace (jet engines, missiles, and spacecraft), military, industrial process (chemicals and petro-chemicals, desalination plants, pulp, and paper), automotive, agri-food, medical prostheses, orthopedic implants, dental and endodontic instruments and files, dental implants, sporting goods, jewelry, mobile phones, and other applications.
The two most useful properties of the metal are corrosion resistance and the highest strength-to-density ratio of any metallic element. In its unalloyed condition, titanium is as strong as some steels, but less dense. There are two allotropic forms and five naturally occurring isotopes of this element, 46Ti through 50Ti, with 48Ti being the most abundant (73.8%). Although they have the same number of valence electrons and are in the same group in the periodic table, titanium and zirconium differ in many chemical and physical properties.
Tungsten, also known as wolfram, is a chemical element with the chemical symbol W and atomic number 74. The word tungsten comes from the Swedish language tung sten directly translatable to heavy stone, though the name is volfram in Swedish to distinguish it from Scheelite, which in Swedish is alternatively named tungsten.
A hard, rare metal under standard conditions when uncombined, tungsten is found naturally on Earth only in chemical compounds. It was identified as a new element in 1781, and first isolated as a metal in 1783. Its important ores include wolframite and scheelite. The free element is remarkable for its robustness, especially the fact that it has the highest melting point of all the elements. Also remarkable is its high density of 19.3 times that of water, comparable to that of uranium and gold, and much higher (about 1.7 times) than that of lead. Tungsten with minor amounts of impurities is often brittle and hard, making it difficult to work. However, very pure tungsten, though still hard, is more ductile, and can be cut with a hard-steel hacksaw.
Tungsten's many alloys have numerous applications, most notably in incandescent light bulb filaments, X-ray tubes (as both the filament and target), electrodes in TIG welding, superalloys, and radiation shielding. About half is used in the form of tungsten carbide, a durable carbon alloy. Tungsten's hardness and high density give it military applications in penetrating projectiles. Tungsten compounds are also often used as industrial catalysts.
Tungsten is the only metal from the third transition series that is known to occur in biomolecules, where it is used in a few species of bacteria and archaea. It is the heaviest element known to be used by any living organism. Tungsten interferes with molybdenum and copper metabolism, and is somewhat toxic to animal life.
Nickel is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Ni and atomic number 28. It is a silvery-white lustrous metal with a slight golden tinge. Nickel belongs to the transition metals and is hard and ductile. Pure nickel shows a significant chemical activity that can be observed when nickel is powdered to maximize the exposed surface area on which reactions can occur, but larger pieces of the metal are slow to react with air at ambient conditions due to the formation of a protective oxide surface. Even then, nickel is reactive enough with oxygen that native nickel is rarely found on Earth's surface, being mostly confined to the interiors of larger nickel-iron meteorites that were protected from oxidation during their time in space. On Earth, such native nickel is always found in combination with iron, a reflection of those elements' origin as major end products of supernova nucleosynthesis. An iron-nickel mixture is thought to compose Earth's inner core.
The use of nickel (as a natural meteoric nickel-iron alloy) has been traced as far back as 3500 BC. Nickel was first isolated and classified as a chemical element in 1751 by Axel Fredrik Cronstedt, who initially mistook its ore for a copper mineral. The element's name comes from a mischievous sprite of German miner mythology, Nickel (similar to Old Nick), that personified the fact that copper-nickel ores resisted refinement into copper. An economically important source of nickel is the iron ore limonite, which often contains 1-2% nickel. Nickel's other important ore minerals include garnierite, and pentlandite. Major production sites include the Sudbury region in Canada (which is thought to be of meteoric origin), New Caledonia in the Pacific, and Norilsk in Russia.
Because of nickel's slow rate of oxidation at room temperature, it is considered corrosion-resistant. Historically, this has led to its use for plating metals such as iron and brass, coating chemistry equipment, and manufacturing certain alloys that retain a high silvery polish, such as German silver. About 6% of world nickel production is still used for corrosion-resistant pure-nickel plating. Nickel was once a common component of coins, but has largely been replaced by cheaper iron for this purpose, especially since the metal is a skin allergen for some people. It was reintroduced into UK coins in 2012 despite objections from dermatologists.
Nickel is one of four elements that are ferromagnetic around room temperature. Alnico permanent magnets based partly on nickel are of intermediate strength between iron-based permanent magnets and rare-earth magnets. The metal is chiefly valuable in the modern world for the alloys it forms; about 60% of world production is used in nickel-steels (particularly stainless steel). Other common alloys, as well as some new superalloys, make up most of the remainder of world nickel use, with chemical uses for nickel compounds consuming less than 3% of production. As a compound, nickel has a number of niche chemical manufacturing uses, such as a catalyst for hydrogenation. Enzymes of some microorganisms and plants contain nickel as an active site, which makes the metal an essential nutrient for them.
Platinum is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pt and an atomic number of 78. It is a dense, malleable, ductile, highly unreactive, precious, gray-white transition metal. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platina, which is literally translated into "little silver".
Platinum is a member of the platinum group of elements and group 10 of the periodic table of elements. It has six naturally occurring isotopes. It is one of the rarest elements in the Earth's crust with an average abundance of approximately 5 μg/kg. It occurs in some nickel and copper ores along with some native deposits, mostly in South Africa, which accounts for 80% of the world production. Because of its scarcity in the earth's crust, only a few hundred tonnes are produced annually, so, given its important uses, it is highly valuable and is a major precious metal commodity.
Platinum is the least reactive metal. It has remarkable resistance to corrosion, even at high temperatures, and is therefore considered a noble metal. Consequently, platinum is often found chemically uncombined as native platinum. Because it occurs naturally in the alluvial sands of various rivers, it was first used by pre-Columbian South American natives to produce artifacts. It was referenced in European writings as early as 16th century, but it was not until Antonio de Ulloa published a report on a new metal of Colombian origin in 1748 that it became investigated by scientists.
Platinum is used in catalytic converters, laboratory equipment, electrical contacts and electrodes, platinum resistance thermometers, dentistry equipment, and jewellery. Being a heavy metal, it leads to health issues upon exposure to its salts, but due to its corrosion resistance, it is not as toxic as some metals. Compounds containing platinum, most notably cisplatin, are applied in chemotherapy against certain types of cancer.
Silver is a chemical element with the symbol Ag (Greek: άργυρος árguros, Latin: argentum, both from the Indo-European root *arg- for "grey" or "shining") and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it possesses the highest electrical conductivity of any element, the highest thermal conductivity of any metal and is the most reflective metal on the planet. The metal occurs naturally in its pure, free form (native silver), as an alloy with gold and other metals, and in minerals such as argentite and chlorargyrite. Most silver is produced as a byproduct of copper, gold, lead, and zinc refining.
While silver has long been valued as a precious metal it is also used in currency coins, solar panels, water filtration, jewelry and ornaments, high-value tableware and utensils (hence the term silverware) and as an investment in the forms of coins and bullion. Silver is used industrially in electrical contacts and conductors, in specialized mirrors, window coatings and in catalysis of chemical reactions. Its compounds are used in photographic film and X-rays. Dilute silver nitrate solutions and other silver compounds are used as disinfectants and microbiocides (oligodynamic effect), added to bandages and wound-dressings, catheters and other medical instruments.
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and atomic number 79. It is a bright yellow dense, soft, malleable and ductile metal. The properties remain when exposed to air or water. Chemically, gold is a transition metal and a group 11 element. It is one of the least reactive chemical elements, and is solid under standard conditions. The metal therefore occurs often in free elemental (native) form, as nuggets or grains, in rocks, in veins and in alluvial deposits. Less commonly, it occurs in minerals as gold compounds, such as with tellurium as calaverite, sylvanite, or krennerite.
As the metallic native element mineral, gold structurally belongs to the isometric copper group. It also forms a solid solution series with the native element silver (Ag) to which it is often naturally alloyed (electrum). Other common natural gold alloys are with copper and palladium (Pd).
Gold resists attacks by individual acids, but it can be dissolved by aqua regia (nitro-hydrochloric acid), so named because it dissolves gold. Gold also dissolves in alkaline solutions of cyanide, which have been used in mining. It dissolves in mercury, forming amalgam alloys; it is insoluble in nitric acid, which dissolves silver and base metals, a property that has long been used to confirm the presence of gold in items, giving rise to the term acid test.
This metal has been a valuable and highly sought-after precious metal for coinage, jewelry, and other arts since long before the beginning of recorded history. In the past, the Gold standard has been implemented as a monetary policy, but it was widely supplanted by fiat currency starting in the 1930s. The last gold certificate and gold coin currencies were issued in the U.S. in 1932. In Europe, most countries left the gold standard with the start of World War I in 1914 and, with huge war debts, did not return to gold as a medium of exchange. The value of gold is rooted in its medium rarity, easily handling, easy smelting, non-corrosiveness, distinct color and non-reactiveness to other elements; qualities most other metals lack.
A total of 174,100 tonnes of gold have been mined in human history, according to GFMS as of 2012. This is roughly equivalent to 5.6 billion troy ounces or, in terms of volume, about 9261 m3, or a cube 21.0 m on a side. The world consumption of new gold produced is about 50% in jewelry, 40% in investments, and 10% in industry.
Besides its widespread monetary and symbolic functions, gold has many practical uses in dentistry, electronics, and other fields. Its high malleability, ductility, resistance to corrosion and most other chemical reactions, and conductivity of electricity have led to many uses, including electric wiring, colored-glass production, and gold leafing.
Most of the Earth's gold probably lies at its core, the metal's high density having made it sink there in the planet's youth. Virtually all discovered gold is considered to have been deposited later by meteorites that contained the element.
Mercury is a chemical element with the symbol Hg and atomic number 80. It is commonly known as quicksilver and was formerly named hydrargyrum (/haɪˈdrɑrdʒərəm/). A heavy, silvery d-block element, mercury is the only metallic element that is liquid at standard conditions for temperature and pressure; the only other element that is liquid under these conditions is bromine, though metals such as caesium, gallium, and rubidium melt just above room temperature.
Mercury occurs in deposits throughout the world mostly as cinnabar (mercuric sulfide). The red pigment vermilion, a pure form of mercuric sulfide, is mostly obtained by reaction of mercury (produced by reduction from cinnabar) with sulfur. Mercury poisoning can result from exposure to water-soluble forms of mercury (such as mercuric chloride or methylmercury), inhalation of mercury vapor, or eating seafood contaminated with mercury.
Mercury is used in thermometers, barometers, manometers, sphygmomanometers, float valves, mercury switches, mercury relays, fluorescent lamps and other devices, though concerns about the element's toxicity have led to mercury thermometers and sphygmomanometers being largely phased out in clinical environments in favour of alternatives such as alcohol- or galinstan-filled glass thermometers and thermistor- or infrared-based electronic instruments. Likewise, mechanical pressure gauges and electronic strain gauge sensors have replaced mercury sphygmomanometers. Mercury remains in use in scientific research applications and in amalgam material for dental restoration in some locales. It is used in lighting: electricity passed through mercury vapor in a fluorescent lamp produces short-wave ultraviolet light which then causes the phosphor in the tube to fluoresce, making visible light.
Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper. The addition of other metals (usually tin, sometimes arsenic), produces an alloy much harder than plain copper. The historical period where the archeological record contains many bronze artifacts is known as the Bronze Age.
Because historical pieces were often made of brasses (copper and zinc) and bronzes with different compositions, modern museum and scholarly descriptions of older objects increasingly use the more inclusive term "copper alloy" instead.
The word bronze (1730-40) is borrowed from French bronze (1511), itself borrowed from Italian bronzo "bell metal, brass" (13th century) (transcribed in Medieval Latin as bronzium), from either:
Ravenna *bróntion, back-formation from Byzantine Greek brontēsíon (11th century), perhaps from Brentḗsion 'Brindisi', reputed for its bronze; or
early Persian birinj, biranj (برنج) "brass" (modern berenj), piring (پرنگ) "copper", from which also came Serbo-Croatian pìrinač "brass", Georgian brinǰao "bronze", Armenian płinj "copper
Beryllium is the chemical element with the symbol Be and atomic number 4. Because any beryllium synthesized in stars is short-lived, it is a relatively rare element in the universe. It is a divalent element which occurs naturally only in combination with other elements in minerals. Notable gemstones which contain beryllium include beryl (aquamarine, emerald) and chrysoberyl. As a free element it is a steel-gray, strong, lightweight and brittle alkaline earth metal.
Beryllium improves many physical properties when added as an alloying element to aluminium, copper (notably the alloy beryllium copper), iron and nickel. Tools made of beryllium copper alloys are strong and hard and do not create sparks when they strike a steel surface. In structural applications, the combination of high flexural rigidity, thermal stability, thermal conductivity and low density (1.85 times that of water) make beryllium metal a desirable aerospace material for aircraft components, missiles, spacecraft, and satellites. Because of its low density and atomic mass, beryllium is relatively transparent to X-rays and other forms of ionizing radiation; therefore, it is the most common window material for X-ray equipment and components of particle physics experiments. The high thermal conductivities of beryllium and beryllium oxide have led to their use in thermal management applications.
The commercial use of beryllium requires the use of appropriate dust control equipment and industrial controls at all times because of the toxicity of inhaled beryllium-containing dusts that can cause a chronic life-threatening allergic disease called berylliosis in some people.
Magnesium is a chemical element with the symbol Mg and atomic number 12. Its common oxidation number is +2. It is an alkaline earth metal and the eighth-most-abundant element in the Earth's crust and ninth in the known universe as a whole. Magnesium is the fourth-most-common element in the Earth as a whole (behind iron, oxygen and silicon), making up 13% of the planet's mass and a large fraction of the planet's mantle. The relative abundance of magnesium is related to the fact that it easily builds up in supernova stars from a sequential addition of three helium nuclei to carbon (which in turn is made from three helium nuclei). Due to magnesium ion's high solubility in water, it is the third-most-abundant element dissolved in seawater. Magnesium is produced in stars larger than 3 solar masses by fusing helium and neon in the alpha process at temperatures above 600 megakelvins.
The free element (metal) is not found naturally on Earth, as it is highly reactive (though once produced, it is coated in a thin layer of oxide (see passivation), which partly masks this reactivity). The free metal burns with a characteristic brilliant-white light, making it a useful ingredient in flares. The metal is now obtained mainly by electrolysis of magnesium salts obtained from brine. In commerce, the chief use for the metal is as an alloying agent to make aluminium-magnesium alloys, sometimes called magnalium or magnelium. Since magnesium is less dense than aluminium, these alloys are prized for their relative lightness and strength.
In human biology, magnesium is the eleventh-most-abundant element by mass in the human body. Its ions are essential to all living cells, where they play a major role in manipulating important biological polyphosphate compounds like ATP, DNA, and RNA. Hundreds of enzymes, thus, require magnesium ions to function. Magnesium compounds are used medicinally as common laxatives, antacids (e.g., milk of magnesia), and in a number of situations where stabilization of abnormal nerve excitation and blood vessel spasm is required (e.g., to treat eclampsia). Magnesium ions are sour to the taste, and in low concentrations they help to impart a natural tartness to fresh mineral waters.
In vegetation, magnesium is the metallic ion at the center of chlorophyll, and is, thus, a common additive to fertilizers.
Zirconium is a chemical element with the symbol Zr, atomic number 40 and atomic mass of 91.224. The name of zirconium is taken from the name of the mineral zircon, the most important source of zirconium. The word zircon comes from the Persian word zargun زرگون, meaning "gold-colored". It is a lustrous, grey-white, strong transition metal that resembles hafnium and, to a lesser extent, titanium. Zirconium is mainly used as a refractory and opacifier, although it is used in small amounts as an alloying agent for its strong resistance to corrosion. Zirconium forms a variety of inorganic and organometallic compounds such as zirconium dioxide and zirconocene dichloride, respectively. Five isotopes occur naturally, three of which are stable. Zirconium compounds have no known biological role. Cobalt is a chemical element with symbol Co and atomic number 27. Like nickel, cobalt in the Earth's crust is found only in chemically combined form, save for small deposits found in alloys of natural meteoric iron. The free element, produced by reductive smelting, is a hard, lustrous, silver-gray metal.
Cobalt-based blue pigments (cobalt blue) have been used since ancient times for jewelry and paints, and to impart a distinctive blue tint to glass, but the color was later thought by alchemists to be due to the known metal bismuth. Miners had long used the name kobold ore (German for goblin ore) for some of the blue-pigment producing minerals; they were so named because they were poor in known metals, and gave poisonous arsenic-containing fumes upon smelting. In 1735, such ores were found to be reducible to a new metal (the first discovered since ancient times), and this was ultimately named for the kobold.
Today, some cobalt is produced specifically from various metallic-lustered ores, for example cobaltite (CoAs S), but the main source of the element is as a by-product of copper and nickel mining. The copper belt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia yields most of the cobalt mined worldwide.
Cobalt is primarily used as the metal, in the preparation of magnetic, wear-resistant and high-strength alloys. Its compounds cobalt silicate and cobalt(II) aluminate (CoAl2O4, cobalt blue) give a distinctive deep blue color to glass, smalt, ceramics, inks, paints and varnishes. Cobalt occurs naturally as only one stable isotope, cobalt-59. Cobalt-60 is a commercially important radioisotope, used as a radioactive tracer and for the production of high energy gamma rays.
Cobalt is the active center of coenzymes called cobalamins, the most common example of which is vitamin B12. As such it is an essential trace dietary mineral for all animals. Cobalt in inorganic form is also an active nutrient for bacteria, algae and fungi.
Sodium is a chemical element with the symbol Na (from Latin: natrium) and atomic number 11. It is a soft, silver-white, highly reactive metal and is a member of the alkali metals; its only stable isotope is 23Na. The free metal does not occur in nature, but instead must be prepared from its compounds; it was first isolated by Humphry Davy in 1807 by the electrolysis of sodium hydroxide. Sodium is the sixth most abundant element in the Earth's crust, and exists in numerous minerals such as feldspars, sodalite and rock salt (NaCl). Many salts of sodium are highly water-soluble, and their sodium has been leached by the action of water so that sodium and chlorine (Cl) are the most common dissolved elements by weight in the Earth's bodies of oceanic water.
Many sodium compounds are useful, such as sodium hydroxide (lye) for soap-making, and sodium chloride for use as a de-icing agent and a nutrient (edible salt). Sodium is an essential element for all animals and some plants. In animals, sodium ions are used against potassium ions to build up charges on cell membranes, allowing transmission of nerve impulses when the charge is dissipated. The consequent need of animals for sodium causes it to be classified as a dietary inorganic macro-mineral.
Caesium or cesium[note 1] is a chemical element with symbol Cs and atomic number 55. It is a soft, silvery-gold alkali metal with a melting point of 28 °C (82 °F), which makes it one of only five elemental metals that are liquid at or near room temperature.[note 2] Caesium is an alkali metal and has physical and chemical properties similar to those of rubidium and potassium. The metal is extremely reactive and pyrophoric, reacting with water even at −116 °C (−177 °F). It is the least electronegative element with a stable isotope, caesium-133. Caesium is mined mostly from pollucite, while the radioisotopes, especially caesium-137, a fission product, are extracted from waste produced by nuclear reactors.
Two German chemists, Robert Bunsen and Gustav Kirchhoff, discovered caesium in 1860 by the newly developed method of flame spectroscopy. The first small-scale applications for caesium were as a "getter" in vacuum tubes and in photoelectric cells. In 1967, a specific frequency from the emission spectrum of caesium-133 was chosen to be used in the definition of the second by the International System of Units. Since then, caesium has been widely used in atomic clocks.
Since the 1990s, the largest application of the element has been as caesium formate for drilling fluids. It has a range of applications in the production of electricity, in electronics, and in chemistry. The radioactive isotope caesium-137 has a half-life of about 30 years and is used in medical applications, industrial gauges, and hydrology. Although the element is only mildly toxic, it is a hazardous material as a metal and its radioisotopes present a high health risk if released into the environment.
Boron is a chemical element with symbol B and atomic number 5. Because boron is produced entirely by cosmic ray spallation and not by stellar nucleosynthesis, it is a low-abundance element in both the solar system and the Earth's crust. Boron is concentrated on Earth by the water-solubility of its more common naturally occurring compounds, the borate minerals. These are mined industrially as evaporites, such as borax and kernite. The largest proven boron deposits are in Turkey, which is the also the largest producer of boron minerals.
Chemically uncombined boron, which is classed as a metalloid, is found in small amounts in meteoroids, but is not found naturally on Earth. Industrially, very pure boron is produced with difficulty, as boron tends to form refractory materials containing small amounts of carbon or other elements. Several allotropes of boron exist: amorphous boron is a brown powder, and crystalline boron is black, extremely hard (about 9.5 on the Mohs scale), and a poor conductor at room temperature. The primary use of elemental boron is to make boron filaments, which are used in a similar way to carbon fibers in some high-strength materials.
The major industrial-scale use of boron compounds (about half of present global consumption) is as additives for glass fibers in boron-containing fiberglass used for insulation or as structural materials. The next leading uses of boron are for borosilicate glass glassware used for its greater strength and breakage resistance (thermal shock resistance) than ordinary soda lime glass. Boron polymers and ceramics play specialized roles as high-strength lightweight structural and refractory materials. Boron compounds are also used as fertilizers in agriculture, and in sodium perborate bleaches. In minor uses, boron is an important dopant for semiconductors, and boron-containing reagents are used as intermediates in the synthesis of organic fine chemicals. A few boron-containing organic pharmaceuticals are used, or are in study. Natural boron is composed of two stable isotopes, one of which (boron-10) has a number of uses as a neutron-capturing agent.
In biology, borates have low toxicity in mammals (similar to table salt), but are more toxic to arthropods and are used as insecticides. Boric acid is mildly antimicrobial, and a natural boron-containing organic antibiotic is known. Boron is essential to life. Small amounts of boron compounds play a strengthening role in the cell walls of all plants, making boron necessary in soils. Experiments indicate a role for boron as an ultratrace element in animals, but its role in animal physiology is unknown.
Molybdenum is a Group 6 chemical element with the symbol Mo and atomic number 42. The name is from Neo-Latin Molybdaenum, from Ancient Greek Μόλυβδος molybdos, meaning lead, since its ores were confused with lead ores. Molybdenum minerals have been known into prehistory, but the element was discovered (in the sense of differentiating it as a new entity from the mineral salts of other metals) in 1778 by Carl Wilhelm Scheele. The metal was first isolated in 1781 by Peter Jacob Hjelm.
Molybdenum does not occur naturally as a free metal on Earth, but rather in various oxidation states in minerals. The free element, which is a silvery metal with a gray cast, has the sixth-highest melting point of any element. It readily forms hard, stable carbides in alloys, and for this reason most of world production of the element (about 80%) is in making many types of steel alloys, including high strength alloys and superalloys.
Most molybdenum compounds have low solubility in water, but the molybdate ion MoO2−
4 is soluble and forms when molybdenum-containing minerals are in contact with oxygen and water. Industrially, molybdenum compounds (about 14% of world production of the element) are used in high-pressure and high-temperature applications, as pigments, and as catalysts.
Molybdenum-containing enzymes are by far the most common catalysts used by some bacteria to break the chemical bond in atmospheric molecular nitrogen, allowing biological nitrogen fixation. At least 50 molybdenum-containing enzymes are now known in bacteria and animals, although only bacterial and cyanobacterial enzymes are involved in nitrogen fixation, and these nitrogenases contain molybdenum in a different form from the rest. Owing to the diverse functions of the various other types of molybdenum enzymes, molybdenum is a required element for life in all higher organisms (eukaryotes), though not in all bacteria.
Manganese is a chemical element, designated by the symbol Mn. It has the atomic number 25. It is not found as a free element in nature, it is often found in combination with iron, and in many minerals. Manganese is a metal with important industrial metal alloy uses, particularly in stainless steels.
Historically, manganese is named for various black minerals (such as pyrolusite) from the same region of Magnesia in Greece which gave names to similar-sounding magnesium, Mg, and magnetite, an ore of the element iron, Fe. By the mid-18th century, Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele had used pyrolusite to produce chlorine. Scheele and others were aware that pyrolusite (now known to be manganese dioxide) contained a new element, but they were not able to isolate it. Johan Gottlieb Gahn was the first to isolate an impure sample of manganese metal in 1774, by reducing the dioxide with carbon.
Manganese phosphating is used as a treatment for rust and corrosion prevention on steel. Depending on their oxidation state, manganese ions have various colors and are used industrially as pigments. The permanganates of alkali and alkaline earth metals are powerful oxidizers. Manganese dioxide is used as the cathode (electron acceptor) material in zinc-carbon and alkaline batteries.
In biology, manganese(II) ions function as cofactors for a large variety of enzymes with many functions. Manganese enzymes are particularly essential in detoxification of superoxide free radicals in organisms that must deal with elemental oxygen. Manganese also functions in the oxygen-evolving complex of photosynthetic plants. The element is a required trace mineral for all known living organisms. In larger amounts, and apparently with far greater activity by inhalation, it can cause a poisoning syndrome in mammals, with neurological damage which is sometimes irreversible.
Iridium is the chemical element with symbol Ir and atomic number 77. A very hard, brittle, silvery-white transition metal of the platinum family, Iridium is generally credited with being the second densest element (after osmium) based on measured density, although calculations involving the space lattices of the elements show that iridium is denser, and is the most corrosion-resistant metal, even at temperatures as high as 2000 °C. Although only certain molten salts and halogens are corrosive to solid iridium, finely divided iridium dust is much more reactive and can be flammable.
Iridium was discovered in 1803 among insoluble impurities in natural platinum. Smithson Tennant, the primary discoverer, named iridium for the Greek goddess Iris, personification of the rainbow, because of the striking and diverse colors of its salts. Iridium is one of the rarest elements in the Earth's crust, with annual production and consumption of only three tonnes. 191Ir and 193Ir are the only two naturally occurring isotopes of iridium, as well as the only stable isotopes; the latter is the more abundant of the two.
The most important iridium compounds in use are the salts and acids it forms with chlorine, though iridium also forms a number of organometallic compounds used in industrial catalysis, and in research. Iridium metal is employed when high corrosion resistance at high temperatures is needed, as in high-performance spark plugs, crucibles for recrystallization of semiconductors at high temperatures, and electrodes for the production of chlorine in the chloralkali process. Iridium radioisotopes are used in some radioisotope thermoelectric generators.
Iridium is found in meteorites with an abundance much higher than its average abundance in the Earth's crust.[not verified in body] For this reason the unusually high abundance of iridium in the clay layer at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary gave rise to the Alvarez hypothesis that the impact of a massive extraterrestrial object caused the extinction of dinosaurs and many other species 66 million years ago. It is thought that the total amount of iridium in the planet Earth is much higher than that observed in crustal rocks, but as with other platinum group metals, the high density and tendency of iridium to bond with iron caused most iridium to descend below the crust when the planet was young and still molten.
Palladium is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pd and an atomic number of 46. It is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston. He named it after the asteroid Pallas, which was itself named after the epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, acquired by her when she slew Pallas. Palladium, platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium form a group of elements referred to as the platinum group metals (PGMs). These have similar chemical properties, but palladium has the lowest melting point and is the least dense of them.
Over half of the supply of palladium and its congener platinum goes into catalytic converters, which convert up to 90% of harmful gases from auto exhaust (hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide) into less-harmful substances (nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water vapor). Palladium is also used in electronics, dentistry, medicine, hydrogen purification, chemical applications, groundwater treatment and jewelry. Palladium plays a key role in the technology used for fuel cells, which combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, heat, and water.
Ore deposits of palladium and other PGMs are rare, and the most extensive deposits have been found in the norite belt of the Bushveld Igneous Complex covering the Transvaal Basin in South Africa, the Stillwater Complex in Montana, United States, the Thunder Bay District of Ontario, Canada, and the Norilsk Complex in Russia. Recycling is also a source of palladium, mostly from scrapped catalytic converters. The numerous applications and limited supply sources of palladium result in the metal attracting considerable investment interest.