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April 2 2012 2 02 /04 /April /2012 19:32

Ferrocerium is an alloy of mischmetal with iron. Mischmetal is formed by extracting all of the rare earth metals except for thorium and electrolyzing their molten chlorides. An alloy of most of the rare earth metals in varying proportions is formed. Ferrocerium is bright silvery gray but forms a black oxide coating which tends to prevent further oxidation in a dry environment. In a wet environment, however, ferrocerium is rapidly and completely corroded. When scraped, ferrocerium makes small shavings of highly pyrophoric metal that are used in cigarette lighters and firestarters because the sparks burn very hot.

 

Ferrocerium dissolves readily in acetic acid to form cerium and lanthanum acetate. Most of the iron accumulates as powder. However, due to dissolved oxygen, some iron dissolves, contaminating the rare earth solution. There are good ways, but I have not successfully separated the iron from the rare earth metals in solution.

 

Ferrocerium reacts with warm water, forming hydrogen gas and a mixture of metal hydroxides. This reaction is similar to magnesium. The coating of hydroxides is slimy and grayish.

 

Ferrocerium also burns in air. The formation of black iron(II,III) oxide as well as cerium and lanthanum oxides make the resulting product dark grayish-black.

 

See Firestarter Business for more information and a video about ferrocerium reaections.

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April 2 2012 2 02 /04 /April /2012 15:43

I have compiled a list of sources for the elements that are available to the amateur chemist. Palladium will be discussed here.

 

Palladium is a silvery-white precious metal from Group 10. It has a similar appearance to silver, but it does not decolorize and tarnish like silver does, therefore it can act as an expensive substitute. Palladium does form a range of coordination complexes, but is a relatively noble metal. Palladium was discovered in the early 1800s in platinum ores. It is quite similar to the other platinum group metals.

 

In element form: Some beads and jewelry are plated with palladium metal. Some spark plugs use palladium alloys.

 

In compound form: Multi-layer ceramic capacitors contain palladium in their contacts.

 

Here is my sample of palladium. It is some multi-layer ceramic capacitors.

 

Palladium.JPG

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March 30 2012 6 30 /03 /March /2012 20:27

I have compiled a list of sources for the elements that are available to the amateur chemist. Rhodium will be discussed here.   

 

Rhodium is commonly regarded as the most expensive non-radioactive element in the world. (Some radioactive elements require millions of dollars to create one or two atoms, so they cannot be accurately compared to the stable elements.) Rhodium is a hard white shiny metal that forms an excellent plating on materials. This plating is ironically used in cheap jewelry because the amount of rhodium used is extremely small. Rhodium forms a wide range of aqueous oxidation states and complexes, like many other precious metals.

 

In element form: Much jewelry is rhodium plated and it is often advertised as such because it makes it sound valuable. Catalytic converters contain rhodium mixed with platinum which is what makes them so expensive.

 

In compound form: No sources found.

 

Here is my sample of rhodium. It is a reed switch advertised as having rhodium-plated contacts.

 

Rhodium.JPG

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March 29 2012 5 29 /03 /March /2012 14:52

I have compiled a list of sources for the elements that are available to the amateur chemist. Ruthenium will be discussed here.  

 

Ruthenium is one of the lightest of the platinum group metals. Situated right under iron on the periodic table, ruthenium is a silvery gray hard metal. Like most of its neighbors, ruthenium is rather inert to attack by acids at room temperature. Actually, bleach will dissolve ruthenium while the most corrosive acids leave it untouched. From 2 to 11% of PGM ores consist of ruthenium. Ruthenium is one of the few elements that can form an octavalent oxidation state.

 

In element form: Ruthenium plating is used when a rather dark coating is desired. Electrical contacts are occasionally plated with ruthenium. Some tips of antique fountain pens contain a ruthenium alloy.

 

In compound form: Thick filim resistors commonly contain ruthenium dioxide.

 

Here is my sample of ruthenium. It is some thick film resistors from a circuit board.

 

Ruthenium.JPG

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March 28 2012 4 28 /03 /March /2012 13:50

I'm sorry, technetium does not have any regularly available sources as it is a highly radioactive and dangerous element. You may see technetium as the radiation source for various medical procedures, but you will not be allowed to bring any home.

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March 27 2012 3 27 /03 /March /2012 15:37

I have compiled a list of sources for the elements that are available to the amateur chemist. Molybdenum will be discussed here. 

 

Molybdenum is a rather dull gray metal; it is one of the least reflective of the transition metals. It is also quite inert, high-melting, and corrosion resistant. However, it is vulnerable, to heat, like many other left side transition metals; it oxidizes to hexavalent molybdenum trioxide, which is an acidic metal oxide. Molybdenum sulfide, the most common molybdenum ore, is a slippery black substance similar to graphite. Molybdenum forms a wide range of colorful complexes in lower oxidation states such as the molybdenum blues. Molybdenum is insoluble in acids and bases. Its expansion rate is similar to that of silica glass.

 

In element form: Some high speed tool steels have about 0.25% molybdenum metal in them. The support wires for the filament in incandescent light bulbs are often pure molybdenum. The squares of foil used to seal the ends of halogen lamps are pure molybdenum.

 

In compound form: Moly grease contains molybdenum disulfide. Molybdates are used as animal feed supplements.

 

Here is my sample of molybdenum metal. It is the foil seal from a halogen lamp. It is encased in the quartz glass, with wires coming out each end.

 

Molybdenum.JPG

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March 27 2012 3 27 /03 /March /2012 02:17
I made some iodine by reacting tincture of iodine with some hydrochloric acid and adding some sodium hypochlorite. A solution of iodine monochloride was made because of excess hydrochloric acid. I then added sodium bicarbonate until flecks of iodine precipitated. The iodine then coagulated, making it easy to filter. It was filtered and began drying, although the evaporation was significant. The paper was stained brown all around the iodine crystals, showing that the iodine vapor reacted with the moist starch. I scraped off a bit of iodine when it was almost dry and placed it in a container.
 
Iodine-crystals-on-paper.JPG
 
The iodine in the container was then placed in a hot tap water bath. The coloration of iodine vapor was faintly visible. When the vial is placed in boiling water, however, the coloration is much more intense. When the vial cools, microscopic crystals of pure iodine are deposited on the walls of the vial.
 
Iodine-crystals-at-25-C-deposited-from-vapor-at-100-C.JPG
 
Here is a video of the sublimation:
 
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March 26 2012 2 26 /03 /March /2012 15:41

I have compiled a list of sources for the elements that are available to the amateur chemist. Niobium will be discussed here.

 

Niobium is a silvery gray, high melting metal from Group 5. It is quite reactive but is protected by a layer of niobium pentoxide. Because of this, niobium is extremely corrosion resistant. Niobium ores are commonly found along with tantalum ores, and the two elements were repeatedly confused in their early days. Niobium forms pentavalent compounds that exist in non-aqeous solution, including the yellow and low-melting pentachloride. Niobium has a relatively low density for a refractory metal.

 

In element form: Niobium jewelry, because it is hypoallergenic, is quite popular. The wires leading into the arc tube for high pressure sodium lamps are made of niobium metal or 99% niobium alloy. Some steels have small amounts (0.1%) of niobium in them. Niobium capacitors, while rare, replace tantalum capacitors in some applications.

 

In compound form: Lithium niobate is used in some piezocrystals. Niobium pentoxide is used in some ceramic capacitors.

 

Here is my sample of niobium metal. It is a mispunched niobium disk sent gratis from Reactive Metals Studio upon request.

 

Niobium-disc.JPG

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March 24 2012 7 24 /03 /March /2012 17:19

I have compiled a list of sources for the elements that are available to the amateur chemist. Zirconium will be discussed here. 

 

Zirconium, a silvery gray left side transition metal, is similar to titanium. It is quite unreactive in bulk form but burns vigorously in powdered form, forming zirconium dioxide, which is better known as cubic zirconia when in a crystalline form. Zirconium forms tetravalent covalently-bonded compounds that have low melting points, just like titanium. Zirconium is transparent to neutrons and heat-resistant, making it useful for fuel rod claddings in nuclear reactors. Zirconium is quite corrosion resistant but will dissolve slowly in hydrochloric acid, just like titanium.

 

In element form: Some body jewelry is made of zirconium metal. Some vacuum tubes use zirconium alloy getters. Old flash bulbs for cameras sometimes used zirconium wool.

 

In compound form: Lead titanate zirconate is used as a piezoelectric element. Both zircon (zirconium silicate) and cubic zirconia (zirconium dioxide) are used in jewelry. Zirconium dioxide is also used as an abrasive.

 

Here is my sample of zirconium. It is a lead titanate zirconate (supposedly) piezoelectric element from an igniter.

 

Zirconium.JPG

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March 23 2012 6 23 /03 /March /2012 12:32

I have compiled a list of sources for the elements that are available to the amateur chemist. Yttrium will be discussed here.

 

Yttrium is a reactive gray metal with properties very similar to the rare eath metals. It reacts slowly with hot water and dissolves quickly in acids to form a colorless solution containing trivalent yttrium. It is also found in the same ores with all of the other rare earth metals. Yttrium, though, does not have an f orbital like the rare earth metals and so has some differences. Yttrium, like most rare earth metals, is slightly toxic. Inhaling large amounts of yttrium oxide dust, just like any other form of dust, can cause lung problems.

 

In element form: Some spark plugs contain about 5% yttrium. They are normally marketed as yttrium spark plugs.

 

In compound form: Yttrium oxide is doped with europium oxide to create red phosphors in CRT screens and CFL bulbs. Yttrium vanadate doped with europium is used in mercury vapor lamp phosphors.

 

Here is my sample of yttrium. It is the ground wire from a yttrium spark plug. Since the remainder is nickel, I could not leach the yttrium out by hydrochloric acid.

 

Yttrium-spark-plug.png

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