Thorium is a chemical element with the symbol Th and atomic number 90. In its pure form, it is a silvery-white metal that is stable in air and remains lustrous for several months. When it reacts with oxides it slowly transforms into a gray color. It is a weak radioactive metal as its isotopes are highly unstable. It is estimated that the element This is more abundant than uranium in the Earth’s crust. It is found in small amounts in most rocks and soils. It was named after Thor, The Scandinavian God of war. It was discovered by a Swedish Scientist named Jons Jacob Berzelius in the year 1828.
|Atomic Mass||232.038 g.mol −1|
|Discovered by||Jöns Jacob Berzelius in 1829|
Physical Properties of Thorium
- It is a silvery-white, soft, metal, somewhat similar to lead. It can be hammered, rolled, bent, cut, shaped, and welded rather easily.
- It has a melting point of about 1,800°C (3,300°F) and a boiling point of about 4,500°C (8,100°F). The density of thorium is about 11.7 grams per cubic centimeter.
- The properties of thorium depend highly on a number of impurities present in the sample. The major impurity is commonly thorium dioxide. The element is an electropositive metal and is highly reactive.
- It burns magnificently with a white light when heated in the air. It has 90 electrons and has 4 electrons in the valence shell.
- At constant pressure and temperature, Thorium is slowly attacked by water but does not readily dissolve in acids.
Applications of Thorium
- As thorium is radioactive, its uses mainly lie in nuclear fuel applications.
- It is helpful in radiometric dating.
- Thorium is still being used as an alloying element in TIG welding electrodes but is slowly being replaced in the field with different compositions
- Used in the manufacturing of lenses for cameras and scientific instruments.
- Used in nuclear reactors as it does not generate plutonium.