Metals

Metals

Metal atoms form a regular lattice structure.

Chemistry

Keywords

metal, metal lattice, metallic bonding, iron, aluminum, zinc, copper, silver, gold, sodium, calcium, Fe, Al, Zn, Cu, Ag, Au, Na, Ca, metal atom core, delocalised electrons, crystal lattice, body-centered cubic lattice, hexagonal metallic lattice, face-centered cubic metal lattice, electrical conduction, light metal, heavy metal, ore, thermal conductivity, corrosion, ferromagnet, steel, amphoteric, thermite, iron ore, bauxit, sphalerite, brass, alloy, cuprite, jewelry, precious metal, aqua regia, carat, electrolysis of molten compounds, chemistry

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Iron (Fe)

Information

Molar mass: 55.85 g/mol

Melting point: 1,538 °C (2,800 °F)

Boiling point: 2,861 °C (5,182 °F)

Density: 7.86 g/cm³ (0.284 lb/in³)

Properties

Iron is a chemical element that is part of Group 8 on the periodic table. In its pure form, it is a lustrous, silvery gray, relatively soft metal. It has a body-centered cubic crystal structure. Pure iron is easy to work at high temperatures. It has ferromagnetic properties and is a good conductor of heat and electricity. It is a metal of negative standard electrode potential. Moist air causes iron to form rust. Powdered iron sparkles when sprinkled into a flame. Iron reacts with dilute acids while producing hydrogen gas; however, concentrated acids passivate its surface.

Occurrence and production

Iron is one of the most abundant elements on Earth. However, it rarely occurs in its pure form, except in meteorites. It is usually found in the form of ores, such as magnetite, hematite or limonite. Iron is produced from its ores (this is called ferrous metallurgy).

Uses

Iron is used in various industries and is one of the raw materials in steel production. It also plays an important role in living organisms, including humans. For example, it is one of the components in hemoglobin, the molecule that carries oxygen in the blood of vertebrates. Iron deficiency causes anemia in the human body.

Aluminum (Al)

Aluminium (Al)

Information

Molar mass: 26.98 g/mol

Melting point: 660 °C (1,220 °F)

Boiling point: 2519 °C (4,566 °F)

Density: 2.7 g/cm³ (0.0975 lb/in³)

Properties

Aluminium is a chemical element in Group 13 on the periodic table (or the boron group). It is a silvery white, ductile light metal. Aluminium does not corrode when exposed to air, due to the contiguous aluminum oxide layer forming on its surface which protects it from further oxidation. It reacts with both dilute acids and bases; it is amphoteric. In a thermite reaction, it reduces iron oxide to iron at a temperature of 2,000 °C (3,632 °F).

Occurrence and production

Aluminium does not occur in nature in its pure form. Its compounds, however, are common, such as the mineral corundum, transparent examples of which are known as the gemstones ruby or sapphire.

It is produced from its ore, bauxite, in aluminium smelters.

Uses

Aluminium and its alloys are widely used in a variety of industries. It is used in the manufacture of electric wires, sheet metal, foils, vehicles and building material. Soluble aluminum compounds can be toxic to the human body, so aluminium cooking utensils should be avoided.

Zinc (Zn)

Information

Molar mass: 65.3 g/mol

Melting point: 419.5 °C (787 °F)

Boiling point: 907 °C (1,665 °F)

Density: 7.14 g/cm³ (0.2579 lb/in³)

Properties

Zinc is a chemical element in Group 12 on the periodic table (the zinc group). It is a bluish white heavy metal. It melts easily and has a hexagonal crystal structure. Its crystals are easy to observe on its surface. Zinc does not corrode when exposed to air, due to the contiguous oxide layer forming on its surface which protects it from further oxidation. It dissolves both in acids and bases, while producing hydrogen gas. A mixture of powdered zinc and sulfur powder explodes when heated with a flame.

Occurrence and production

Zinc does not occur in nature in its pure form, only in ores. Its important ores include sphalerite (ZnS) and zincite (ZnO). Zinc is produced from its sulfide ores by roasting the ore and reducing the resulting oxide with carbon.

Uses

Zinc is often used as an anticorrosion agent. Galvanized steel is produced by coating steel sheets with a layer of zinc.

Zinc is also used in batteries, as well as in the production of brass, one of its alloys.

Zinc is a trace element for living organisms: it is necessary in small quantities, however, it is toxic in large quantities.

Copper (Cu)

Information

Molar mass: 63.5 g/mol

Melting point: 1,084.5 °C (1,984 °F)

Boiling point: 2,562 °C (4,644 °F)

Density: 8.96 g/cm³ (0,3237 lb/in³)

Properties

Copper is a chemical element in Group 11 on the periodic table (the copper group). It crystallizes into a face-centered cubic crystal structure. It is a reddish orange, soft heavy metal; it is ductile and malleable, so it can be easily stretched into thin wire. When exposed to moist air, a greenish layer forms on its surface; this layer is called patina or verdigris. Copper does not react with water, dilute acids or bases; it only reacts with oxidative acids. It easily forms alloys with other metals; its best-known alloys include brass, bronze and nickel silver.

Occurrence and production

Copper can be found in nature in its pure form as well as in minerals. Its important ores include azurite and cuprite. It can be produced in a reduction reaction.

Uses

Copper is an important material in the manufacture of electric wires and cables, sheet metal and various fittings. Its alloys also play an important role in industry.

Metallic copper is not toxic; however, its ionic compounds are. Therefore, these are often used as fungicides and pesticides.

Silver (Ag)

Information

Molar mass: 107.8 g/mol

Melting point: 962 °C (1764 °F)

Boiling point: 2,162 °C (3,924 °F)

Density: 10.5 g/cm³ (0.3793 lb/in³)

Properties


Silver is a chemical element in Group 11 on the periodic table (the copper group). It crystallizes into a face-centered cubic crystal structure. Silver is a white, highly lustrous metal; softer than copper but harder than gold. Powdered silver is black.

Silver has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity and reflectivity of all metals. It is also one of the most ductile and malleable metals.

Silver is highly stable, but tarnishes when it is exposed to air or water containing hydrogen sulfide. It is not soluble in dilute acids, but dissolves readily in hot concentrated nitric acid or sulfuric acid. It easily forms alloys with other metals.

Occurrence and production

Silver occurs naturally in its pure form and in ores containing sulfur, arsenic, antimony or chlorine, such as argentite (Ag₂S) and chlorargyrite (AgCl). Most silver is produced from silver-bearing ores of other metals (lead, copper and zinc), through various processes.

Uses

Metallic silver has antifungal and antibacterial properties. It has a wide variety of applications: silver is mostly used for making jewelry and coins, as well as in dentistry, photography and electronics.

Several of its compounds are used in medicine, such as silver nitrate, mainly used as a cauterizing agent and disinfectant. Silver halides were used in photography in the past.

Gold (Au)

Information

Molar mass: 196.9 g/mol

Melting point: 1,064.2 °C (1,947 °F)

Boiling point: 2,856 °C (5,173 °F)

Density: 19.3 g/cm³ (0.6973 lb/in³)

Properties

Gold is a chemical element in Group 11 on the periodic table (the copper group). It crystallizes into a face-centered cubic crystal structure. Gold is a yellow, highly lustrous and soft metal, it can be easily scratched. Gold is the most ductile and malleable metal. It has good electrical and thermal conductivity. It is a very stable noble metal: it does not tarnish when exposed to air or water and does not react with most substances. It does not react with most acids, but it can be dissolved with aqua regia, that is, a 1:3 mixture of concentrated nitric acid and hydrochloric acid.

Occurrence and production

Gold occurs naturally in its pure form but due to its softness, it is alloyed for durability. The fineness of the alloy, that is, the ratio by mass of gold to the other metals, is indicated by karats. Pure gold is 24 karats.

Uses

A large amount of gold is used in the jewelry industry, but it is also used in other industries such as electronics, medicine and the food industry. Gold reserves are held in significant quantity by a number of countries as a means of protecting their currency.

Sodium (Na)

Information

Molar mass: 23 g/mol

Melting point: 97.72 °C (208 °F)

Boiling point: 883 °C (1,621 °F)

Density: 0.97 g/cm³ (0.035 lb/in³)

Properties

Sodium is a chemical element in Group 1 on the periodic table (the alkali metals). It crystallizes into a body-centered cubic crystal structure. Sodium is a silvery white light metal with a bluish luster; it is very soft: it can be easily be cut with a knife. It has good electroconductivity.

Sodium readily reacts with most substances and is highly reductive. It reacts exothermically with water. For these reasons, it must be stored in liquid anhydrous paraffin or liquid anhydrous mineral oil.

Occurrence and production

Sodium does not occur in nature in its pure form, only in compounds. The most important and most common of these is sodium chloride, that is, common salt. Sodium is produced commercially through the electrolysis of molten sodium chloride.

Uses

Sodium is commonly used in making soap and in the purification of molten metals. Sodium is an indispensable nutrient for animals, including humans, due to its role in generating nerve impulses and in maintaining an electrolyte balance and fluid balance.

Calcium (Ca)

Information

Molar mass: 40.08 g/mol

Melting point: 842 °C (1548 °F)

Boiling point: 1,484 °C (2,703 °F)

Density: 1.55 g/cm³ (0.056 lb/in³)

Properties

Calcium is a chemical element in Group 2 on the periodic table (the alkaline earth metals). It crystallizes into a face-centered cubic crystal structure. Calcium is a grayish, soft light metal; when exposed to air, it loses its luster and rapidly forms calcium oxide. When lit, it burns with a brilliant high-intensity orange light and forms a white powder (CaO). It reacts both with water and dilute acids while producing hydrogen gas.

Occurrence and production

Due to its high reactivity, calcium only occurs naturally in compounds. It is the fifth most abundant element in the Earth's crust. Its most important minerals include calcite, dolomite and gypsum.

Calcium is essential for living organisms: it is a component in bones, mollusk shells and corals in the form of calcium phosphate.

It is produced through the electrolysis of molten calcium chloride.

Uses

Calcium is one of the vital components in living organisms as its salts provide bones with hardness and rigidity. It also plays an important role in maintaining the body's electrolyte balance and proper muscle functions. In industry, it is used as a strong reducing agent and as a base metal for alloys. Several of its minerals, such as gypsum and limestone, play an important role in the construction industry, medicine and agriculture.

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