Supplier Data - Sodium (Na) (Goodfellow)


Sodium (Na) was discovered in 1807 by Sir Humphrey Davy in London.

Occurrence and Abundance

Along with potassium, Sodium is one of the more common alkali metals, there being 28300 ppm in the earth’s crust, primarily as the carbonate, chloride or nitrate.

Preparation of Sodium Metal

Sodium is a soft, silvery coloured metal which, like other members of the alkali group of metals, is extremely reactive. As for the other members of the group, it can be prepared by electrolysis of the fused halide or hydroxide.


Molten Sodium is used as a heat exchanger in certain types of nuclear reactors and as a reagent in the chemicals industry. Some of the Sodium salts (e.g. NaCl and NaCO3) are more important than the metal itself due to the variety of applications for which they can be used.

Nuclear Reactors often use molten sodium as a heat exchanger/ Image Credit:Thorsten Schier/Shutterstock

Nuclear Reactors often use molten sodium as a heat exchanger/ Image Credit:Thorsten Schier/Shutterstock

Sodium and The Human Body

Sodium is an essential element for all living species, including humans, although there is an element of controversy concerning the amount required. An average human body contains around 100 grams of Sodium  which are lost in various ways and has to be replenished. The average human consumes approximately 10 grams of salt per day although only around 3 grams are actually needed and an excess can contribute to high blood pressure. Sodium performs several functions within the body including the regulation of the water content in the blood and tissue and the transmission of electrical impulses.

Key Properties

The key properties of Sodium are tabulated below.

Table 1. Key properties

Atomic Properties
Atomic number 11
Atomic radius - Goldschmidt ( nm ) 0.192
Atomic weight ( amu ) 22.99
Crystal structure Body centred cubic
Electronic structure Ne 3s1
Photo-electric work function ( eV ) 212
Thermal neutron absorption cross-section ( Barns ) 0.54
Valences shown 1
Ionisation Potential No. eV
1 5.14
2 47.30
3 71.64
4 98.91
5 138.39
6 172.15
Natural Isotope Distribution Mass No. %
23 100
Electrical Properties
Temperature coefficient @ 0-100 °C ( K-1 ) 0.0055
Electrical resistivity @^C ( µ ) 4.5
Physical Properties
Boiling point (°C ) 883
Density ( ) 0.97
Melting point ( °C ) 97.8
Thermal Properties
Coefficient of thermal expansion @^C ( x10-6 K-1 ) 71
Latent heat of evaporation ( J.g-1 ) 4260
Latent heat of fusion ( J.g-1 ) 113
Thermal conductivity @ 0-100 °C ( W.m-1.K-1 ) 128

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