Mercury | Properties | Uses | Other Details - Elements and Compounds


Friday, February 24, 2023

Mercury | Properties | Uses | Other Details

Mercury Properties Uses and other Details

    What is Mercury

    Mercury is a metal and in chemical form it is an element. Mercury is a white shiny metal, it is in liquid state at normal temperature. The chemical symbol of mercury is Hg, and its atomic mass is Weight) is 200.59 amu. The density of mercury is 13.53 grams per cubic centimeter. Its atom contains 80 electrons, 80 protons, and 121 neutrons. Mercury changes from liquid to solid state at -38.87 °C and it boils at 356.58 °C. In the Periodic Table, mercury is located in group 12, period 6 and block (D).

    Mercury has been used since ancient times, so it is unknown by whom it was discovered.

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    Mercury Properties Uses and other Details

    Properties of Mercury

    • Mercury is a white lustrous metal found in liquid state at room temperature.
    • There are weak bonds between the atoms of mercury, due to which the atoms of mercury do not join together very strongly. Very little heat is required to break these bonds, which is why mercury is found in liquid state at room temperature.
    • Mercury changes from liquid to solid state at -38.87 °C. The density of mercury in the solid state increases from 13.53 grams per cubic centimeter to 14.18 grams per cubic centimeter.
    • In the solid state, the volume of mercury decreases by about 3.59%.
    • Mercury in the solid state is a malleable, ductile and soft metal, which can be easily cut with the help of a knife.
    • Together with metals like gold, silver and aluminium, mercury forms an alloy called amalgam. But mercury does not form amalgam with all the metals.
    • Iron and some other metals do not form amalgam with mercury, that is why iron vessels are used to store mercury.
    • Mercury reacts very easily with pure aluminum to form amalgam, due to which aluminum starts rusting very quickly. For this reason, carrying mercury in airplanes is prohibited, so that airplanes can be saved from the damage caused by mercury.
    • Mercury does not react with air, but on heating, mercury reacts with the oxygen present in the air to form mercury oxide (HgO), which is a red colored powdery substance.
    • Mercury does not react with most acids, but mercury reacts with oxidizing acids such as nitric acid, sulfuric acid and aqua regia acid and dissolves in them.
    • The surface tension of mercury is very high, due to which instead of spreading like water when mercury falls on the ground, it takes the form of drops.
    • When mercury is kept in the open, it evaporates slowly at room temperature.
    • Mercury is considered a very toxic substance, mercury can enter the body through open wounds, by inhalation and directly through the skin. Mercury enters the body and destroys the nervous system, liver and kidneys.
    • The thermal conductivity of mercury is not very good, that is, it is low.
    • The electrical conductivity of mercury is moderate.

    Uses of Mercury

    • Mercury is sensitive to even a slight change in temperature, it expands even with a slight increase in temperature and contracts with a slight decrease in temperature. In mercury, this expansion and contraction happens uniformly, that is, as much as mercury expands on a one degree increase in temperature, the same amount it contracts on a one degree decrease in temperature. Because of this property, mercury is used in making thermometers.
    • Mercury is used in making blood pressure meter (Sphygmomanometer).
    • Due to the high density of mercury, it is used in making barometers.
    • Mercury is used in making Manometer, it is used to measure the pressure of gases.
    • Mercury vapor is used to make fluorescent lamps such as tube lights and CFLs.
    • Mercury is used to make mercury arc rectifiers/valves, it is used to convert high voltage alternating current (AC current) to direct current (DC current).
    • Mercury is used in the purification of gold and silver.
    • Mercury is also used in making batteries.
    • Mercury is used to make liquid lenses for telescopes in observatories. For this, mercury is filled in a large vessel and rotated slowly on an axis, due to which the mercury takes the form of a parabolic lens in the vessel due to centrifugal force and gravity. This lens made in this way is very precise, which is made very easily. If a parabolic lens of the same size of this level of precision were to be made from glass, it would take a lot more time, and would cost many times more.
    • Mercury is used in making liquid contact electrical switches.
    • Mercury mixed with silver was used to fill cavities in teeth. But nowadays due to the detection of harmful properties of mercury, it has been banned in many countries.
    • Mercury is also used as a liquid electrode in the production of chlorine and caustic soda.

    Interesting facts about mercury metal

    • Indian chemist Pandit Krishnapal Sharma showed conversion of 10 grams of mercury into 10 grams of gold on May 27, 1942 at Birla House, Delhi. The witnesses of this incident were Shri AB Thakkar (President All India Hindu Sevak Sangh), Shri Duttji (Secretary Birla Mills, Delhi), Shri Khemka (Chief Engineer) etc. This incident is mentioned on the inscription of Birla Mandir Delhi. Click here for more details :- Link 1 , Link 2
    • The density of mercury is higher than iron, so mercury is heavier than iron. That's why when an iron coin or any iron object is put in mercury, it starts floating on top of mercury.
    • Mercury is the only metal which is found in liquid state at room temperature i.e. 22 degree Celsius.
    • The highest production of mercury in the world is done in China, in the year 2016 about 4000 metric tons of mercury was produced in China.
    • Mercury corrodes aluminum when it comes in contact with aluminum, so carrying mercury in an airplane is prohibited.
    • When gold and silver come in contact with mercury, they dissolve in mercury.

    Harmful effects of mercury metal

    • Mercury is an extremely dangerous metal, mercury has been placed in the list of 10 most dangerous chemicals by the World Health Organization (WHO). When mercury is left open in the air, it gradually evaporates in the air, due to which it enters the body through breath. Even a small amount of mercury destroys the nervous system in the body, due to which many diseases related to the brain can occur and paralysis can also occur. Apart from this, it also causes heavy damage to the heart, brain, lungs, liver and kidneys. Due to the harmful effects of mercury, mentally weak children are born, whose ability to think and understand is very weak. Mercury evaporates very slowly in the air, small amounts of mercury can take weeks to evaporate, leaving the atmosphere toxic for weeks.
    • Mercury pollution is a very serious global problem. The use of mercury in the purification of Gold and the use of mercury in fluorescent lamps such as tubelights, CFLs, etc., lead to a large amount of mercury pollution. When the fluorescent lamp (tubelight, CFL) is thrown away, the mercury vapor present in it is absorbed into the water or land, due to which the mercury combines with water to form methyl mercury salt, a very toxic substance. This substance is absorbed by trees and plants or by aquatic vegetation. When these plants are eaten by insects, fish or herbivores, it also reaches them, and finally when these animals are eaten by humans, it also reaches humans. In this way, this mercury can harm up to 8 to 10 levels of the food chain. That's why it is necessary to deal with the danger of mercury very carefully.
    • Many countries in the world have banned the use of mercury, more than 90 countries have signed the Minamata Convention to prevent mercury pollution.

    Detailed Information on Some other Metals

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