What is Scandium?
Scandium is a chemical element that has the symbol Sc and the atomic number 21. It is a soft silvery metal that has three times the density of water and can be found in the form of solid at room temperature. Scandium burns easily and reacts with water.
Scandium is categorized as the d-block element (also called transition metal) in the periodic table and it has been classified as a rare earth element historically (along with yttrium and lanthanides). It has a melting point of 1540C and a boiling point of 2830C. The Scandium element was first discovered by a Swedish chemist named Lars Fredrik Nilson in 1879. Nilson discovered scandium in Uppsala, Sweden through the study of the euxenite ore.
It is the first transition metals to be discovered in the periodic table. The word Scandium was derived from the Latin name for Scandinavia, Scanda. Although It is known to be the element that is considered low in toxicity, Scandium is suspected to be carcinogenic. There are only few studies of Scandium health effects due to its rarity in the earth crust. Therefore, Scandium should always be handled with care and avoid any route of exposure.
Uses of Scandium in Everyday Life
Although Scandium was already found back in 1879, scandium was not used until 1970s because it is not readily available. It was not readily available due to its difficulty in the metal extraction process. It is caused by its availability which only small amount of scandium that can be found in minerals and it is always found in combined state. Today, Scandium is used in wide variety of purposes. Some of uses of Scandium in everyday life can be seen as listed below.
- Aluminum-scandium alloy: When a trace amount of Scandium is added to aluminum, it increases the strength of the aluminum manifold, without even increasing its weight. Aluminum-scandium alloy is used as an aerospace industry component (like in Russian MIG fighter planes) and sports equipment (such as bicycle frames, fishing rods, and baseball bats). Aluminum-scandium alloy is commonly used because it produced high performance material that is light, rust resistant, and has a very high melting point.
- Scandium iodide: It is used in mercury vapor lamps, which serves as sunlight replica in studios for movie industry. Those lamps give an effect of high intensity white light that is quite similar to a natural sunlight.
- Scandium oxide: Scandium oxide is used to make high intensity stadium lights.
- The radioactive isotope Scandium-46: The radioactive isotope is used as a tracing agent in oil refineries. It is used to monitor the movement of various fractions and can also be used to detect leaks in underground pipes.
- Dilute Scandium sulfate: Dilute Scandium sulfate is the scandium salt of sulfuric acid. It has the chemical formula Sc2(SO4)3. Dilute Scandium sulfate is commonly used in agricultural purpose for seed treatments to improve the germination of seeds (such as corn, peas, and wheat).
Meanwhile, that’s all the uses of Scandium in everyday life!
For other chemicals use in everyday life, you may want to read:
- The Use of Chlorine
- Citric Acid as a Preservative
- Common Uses of Acetone and Formalin
- Uses of Butane
- Sodium Chloride uses