Thorium | Properties | Uses | Facts - Elements and Compounds


Sunday, March 5, 2023

Thorium | Properties | Uses | Facts

Properties uses and facts of Thorium

    What is Thorium

    Thorium is a radioactive metal, and chemically it is an element. Thorium is a shiny silver colored metal. Thorium's symbol is Th, its atomic number is 90 and its atomic weight is 232.038. An atom of thorium has 90 electrons, 90 protons, 142 neutrons and 7 energy levels. Thorium has a density of 11.72 grams per cubic centimeter. Thorium is found in the solid state at room temperature, with a melting point of 1750 °C (3182 °F) and a boiling point of 4790 °C (8654 °F). Thorium is located in the group Actinides, Period 7 and Block F in the Periodic Table.

    Thorium was discovered in 1828 by Swedish chemist Jons Jacob Berzelius.

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    Properties of Thorium

    • Thorium is a silver-white lustrous metal.
    • When exposed to air, thorium forms a layer of gray oxide, which gradually turns black.
    • When thorium is heated in the presence of air, it burns with a very bright white light.
    • Thorium is a slightly radioactive metal.
    • Thorium dissolves in hydrochloric acid.
    • Thorium in powder form is extremely flammable.
    • Thorium is a ductile metal, so thin wires can be made from it.
    • The melting point of thorium oxide is 3300 °C, the highest of all oxides.
    • There is a wide difference between the melting point and boiling point of thorium.
    • Even a slight impurity in thorium causes a wide difference between its melting point and boiling point.

    Uses of Thorium

    • Thorium is used as an alloy with magnesium, due to thorium, magnesium maintains strength even at high temperatures.
    • Thorium can be used for nuclear power generation.
    • Thorium dioxide is used to make high quality camera lenses.
    • Thorium oxide is used to make high temperature crucibles.
    • Thorium is used to coat tungsten wire used in electric equipment.
    • In ancient times, thorium dioxide was used to light gas lanterns.
    • Thorium is used to date hominid fossils.
    • Thorium-233 is created by bombarding thorium-232 with neutrons, then thorium-233 slowly decays into Uranium-233. Uranium-233 is a fissile material that can be used as nuclear fuel.
    • Thorium oxide is used as a catalyst in the production of sulfuric acid, in the cracking of petroleum products, and in the production of nitric acid from ammonia.

    Interesting Facts about Thorium

    • Until thorium's radioactive properties were discovered, thorium was used in toothpaste.
    • Thorium is abundantly available on Earth, thorium is found almost three times more than uranium.
    • The largest reserves of thorium in the world are found in India.
    • India is the largest producer of thorium in the world.

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