Praseodymium (Pr) - Discovery, Occurrence, Production, Properties and Applications of Praseodymium

Chemical Formula

Pr

Background

In 1841, Carl Mosander separated two 'elements' ,didymium and lanthanum, from cerium. Although didymium was considered as an element for several years, scientists suspected didymium was in fact a mixture of elements. There suspicions were confirmed when Bohuslav Brauner from Prague proved that the atomic spectrum of didymium was not similar to that of a pure metal. However, Brauner failed to separate the elements of didymium. Following this, Carl Auer von Welsbach, an Austrian chemist succeeded in splitting didymium into oxides of neodymium and praseodymium in 1885. Praseodymium was named after the Greek words 'prasios didymos’ which means 'green twin' as it behaves like lanthanum.

Basic Information

Name Praseodymium
Symbol Pr
Atomic number 59
Atomic weight 140.9 amu
Standard state Solid at 298 K
CAS Registry ID 7440-10-0
Group name Lanthanoid
Period in periodic table 6
Block in periodic table f-block
Color Silvery white, yellowish tinge
Classification Metallic
Melting point 1204 K (931°C or 1708°F)
Boiling point 3793 K (3520°C or 6368°F)
Density 6.77 g/cm3
Phase at room temperature Solid

Occurrence

Praseodymium has a concentration fo about 3.5 to 5.5 ppm inthe Earth's crust. It can be found in mineral ores like monazite and bastnasite as well.

Praseodymium - Periodic Table of Videos

Isotopes

Around 32 isotopes of praseodymium have been observed so far, which include 121Pr to 154Pr. Praseodymium has only one naturally- occurring stable isotope, 141Pr.

Production

Praseodymium can be prepared by reducing the mixture of anhydrous chloride and fluoride with calcium. Commercially, it is recovered from monazite sand and bastnasite by extraction processes and ion exchange techniques.

Health Aspects

Like all other rare metals, the toxicity of praseodymium varies from low to moderate. Soluble praseodymium salts are mildly toxic and insoluble salts are non toxic. Some of the health hazards of praseodymium include the following:

  • Skin and eye irritation
  • Lung embolisms
  • Liver diseases

Key Properties

The key properties of praseodymium include the following:

  • It is a soft, silvery, lustrous, metallic, ductile metal
  • It readily reacts with water to form hydroxides and air to form oxides
  • It generally exists in its trivalent state

Applications

Some of the applications of praseodymium are listed below:

  • It is used in high-intensity permanent magnets that are suitable for electric generators , motors of wind turbines and hybrid cars
  • It is used for the manufacture of special yellow glass goggles of glass welders and blowers
  • It is used as an alloying agent employed for manufacturing high-strength metals used in high-strength metal
  • It is used in high-intensity carbon arc lights for floodlighting and film industry applications.

References

G.P. Thomas

Written by

G.P. Thomas

Gary graduated from the University of Manchester with a first-class honours degree in Geochemistry and a Masters in Earth Sciences. After working in the Australian mining industry, Gary decided to hang up his geology boots and turn his hand to writing. When he isn't developing topical and informative content, Gary can usually be found playing his beloved guitar, or watching Aston Villa FC snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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