Sitting at the 21st position on the Periodic Table, Scandium – one of the rare earth metals – is one really confusing element. In this article on Scandium facts we are going to learn not only about its history, properties, uses, etc. but also, we are going to learn what makes this element such a confusing one. Are you ready? Of course, you are! So, let us begin.
Facts about Scandium – Some Basic Information at a Glance
|Element Family||Transition Metals and Rare Earth Metals|
|Melting Point||1814 K or 1541 degrees Celsius|
|Boiling Point||3109 K or 2836 degrees Celsius|
|Density at 20 degrees Celsius||2.985 g/cm3|
|Number of Electrons||21|
|Number of Neutrons (as found in the most abundant isotope)||24|
|Number of Protons||21|
|Element Structure||Hexagonal close-packed (hcp)|
|Atomic Radius||215 pm|
|Hardness||736-1200 Mpa (MegaPascal pressure unit)|
Facts about Scandium – Isotopes of Scandium
|Isotope Name||Type and Abundance||Half-Life (HL)|
|36Sc||Radioactive||No Data Available|
|37Sc||Radioactive||No Data Available|
|38Sc||Radioactive||No Data Available|
|45Sc||Stable and 100% natural abundance||Stable, and hence, no HL|
|59Sc||Radioactive||> 360 nanoseconds|
|60Sc||Radioactive||> 360 nanoseconds|
|61Sc||Radioactive||> 360 nanoseconds|
Now that we have all the basic information in hand, we can start with our facts list. So, without further ado, let us begin.
Scandium Facts: 1-15 | History of Scandium
Scandium Facts | Prediction by Dimitri Mendeleev
1. Dmitri Mendeleev, the father of the periodic table, predicted an element having an atomic mass between 40 and 48 in the year 1869.
Scandium Facts | Discovery of Ekaboron by Lars Fredrik Nilson
3. In the year 1879, Lars Fredrik Nilson and others in his team from the University of Uppsala, Sweden, detected “ekaboron” in gadolinite and euxenite minerals.
4. He was studying the Rare Earth Metals and was actually trying to isolate ytterbium from gadolinite and euxenite minerals.
5. Nilson first prepared erbium oxide or erbia from the minerals and then erbia was reacted further to form erbium nitrate.
6. When he heated erbium nitrate, he found an unknown element which was way lighter than other lanthanides.
7. Spectral analysis showed that there were 30 discrete spectral lines which further proved the existence of a new element.
Scandium Facts | Naming of New Element and Similarity with Ekaboron
8. Nilson even prepared 2 grams of Scandium Oxide of high purity.
9. It was Nilson who studied Scandium in details to determine that it had an atomic weight of 44.
10. He was the one who named it Scandium after Scandinavia as the element occurred in rare minerals which were found in Scandinavia. In Latin, Scandia meant Scandinavia, an area of North Europe.
11. Per Teodor Cleve exhibited that Scandium and “Ekaboron” predicted by Mendeleev had similar properties.
Scandium Facts | Production of Metallic Scandium and Scandium Alloys
13. The first ever pound of 99% pure Scandium was produced in the year 1960.
14. By 1980s or precisely 1971, production of Aluminum alloys with Scandium started in both US and USSR.
15. Later in the 1980s and 1990s, SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative) developed laser crystals made up of gadolinium-scandium-gallium garnet (GSGG). They were used in strategic defense.
Scandium Facts: 16-22 | Oddity of Scandium
16. It belongs to group 3, period 4 and block d of the Periodic Table.
17. The positioning of Scandium into any particular family is not really that easy. It belongs to the family of Transition Metals and Rare Earth Metals.
18. According to IUPAC (International Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry), a transition metal is “an element whose atom has an incomplete d sub-shell, or which can give rise to cations with an incomplete d sub-shell.”
19. The first part makes it a transition element as it has incomplete d sub-shell but as far as the second part is concerned, its cation doesn’t have incomplete d sub-shell.
20. Hence some of them don’t consider Scandium as a transition element.
21. It is also considered to be a part of Rare Earth Metal along with Yttrium and lanthanides because it is present in the same ores in which the other 16 (15 lanthanides and Yttrium) occur and hence exhibit similar physical (electronic configuration), mineralogical, and chemical properties.
22. They are not actually rare but their extraction from the ores and other Rare Earth Metals is difficult, therefore the name Rare Earth Metals.
Scandium Facts: 23-35 | Properties of Scandium
24. Scandium’s properties are somewhere between the properties of Aluminum and Yttrium.
25. As mentioned in the first table, Scandium is solid but soft and has a silvery-white appearance. It becomes slightly yellow or pink if it is exposed to air.
26. There is no particular odor of the element.
27. It is malleable or ductile and can conduct electricity and heat.
28. Though its density matches with Aluminum, it has a higher melting point.
29. There are 3 electrons present in its outermost shell, and it is not an octet configuration. Hence it readily loses 3 electrons to attain the configuration of Argon which eventually makes Scandium a trivalent element – Sc3+
30. Scandium is vulnerable to corrosion and weathering and therefore, gets dissolved in most of the dilute acids.
32. In the flame test, the flame of Scandium burns bright yellow and produces Scandium Oxide (which is weak basic oxide).
33. Its oxide, Scandium Oxide is white and most of Scandium’s salts are colorless.
34. Scandium Oxide (Sc2O3) and Scandium Hydroxide Sc(OH)3 both can act as acid and base. Their behavior as an acid or base is dependent on the oxidation states of the oxide.
Scandium Facts:36-47 | Scandium Uses
36. The Aluminum alloys produced using Scandium were lighter, harder and less corrosive when subjected to high temperatures.
37. Majorly the alloys of Aluminum and Scandium (1.0% of Aluminum and 0.5% of Scandium) are used for constructing minor components of aircraft. Russian aircraft like MiG- 21 and MiG-29 used this alloy.
38. The same Aluminum and Scandium alloy is used to make high-quality baseball bats, frames and other components for bicycles, sticks for the lacrosse game, and frames of semi-automatic revolvers and pistols.
39. The Aluminum and Scandium alloy is expected to play some role in the manufacture of fuel cells.
40. Al20Li20Mg20Sc20Ti30 is an alloy which is extremely strong like Titanium, hard as a ceramic and light as Aluminum.
41. Lasers made of many compounds like Chromium, Scandium, Yttrium, Gallium etc., are used in endodontics (the branch of dentistry dealing especially with dental pulp) and for preparing cavity.
42. A radioactive isotope of Scandium, Scandium-46 is generally used in oil refineries as a tracing agent to either track compounds or to detect any leaks in underground pipes.
43. Of many Scandium uses, one is the production of nickel alkaline batteries and expected to be a potential option in space research and aeronautical engineering.
44. When it comes to Scandium uses, jewelry making is something most of us don’t know of.
45. Mercury vapor lamps use Scandium Iodide. The lamps come in handy to mimic the sunlight for TV and film industry.
46. Scandia (Scandium Iodide) is used to make stadium lights which are of high intensity.
47. Dilute Scandium Sulfate is found to improve germination of seeds like corn, wheat, and peas.
Scandium Facts: 48-57 | Occurrence of Scandium in Nature
48. As said earlier, Scandium is not rare in Earth’s crust (having 18 to 25 ppm) but it is difficult to extract.
49. It is the 23rd most abundant element in the Sun, 35th most abundant element in Earth’s crust, and 50th most abundant element on Earth.
50. In the universe, its percentage is around 3×10-6 and in the solar system, it increases to 4×10-6.
51. On our planet, the amount of Scandium is nearly 0.0026% whereas, on meteorites, it is nearly 0.0064%. Amount of Scandium present in the human body remains unknown.
52. It is usually found in minerals like euxenite, wikite, bazzite, gadolinite, and thortveitite in regions like Scandinavia, Madagascar, etc.
53. According to estimates, Scandium is found in over 700 to 800 minerals.
54. Thortveitite contains nearly 45% of the Scandium as Scandium Oxide. Scandium’s stable form is also created in supernovas.
55. As far as commercial production goes, Scandium is the byproduct when Uranium gets refined.
56. Another way to obtain pure Scandium is to react Scandium Fluoride with other elements like Zinc, Calcium, etc.
57. Did you know that Moon has more Scandium deposits than Earth has?
Scandium Facts: 58-62 | Scandium in the USA
58. In the USA, Scandium is mostly derived when other elements like Tantalum, Fluorine, etc., are mined.
59. Nearly 15 tons of Scandium is extracted every year from only three mines which actively extract this metal. It is extracted in the form of Scandium Oxide.
60. Nearly 20 kilograms of Scandium is used in the production of discharge lamps in the USA.
61. Over 80 kilograms of Scandium is used in the USA to produce halide lamps every year.
62. The total amount of Scandium produced in the US is never declared because it is considered as the trade secret in the industry.
Scandium Facts: 63-64 | Biological Role of Scandium
63. Not much is known about the biological effect Scandium has on the human body.
64. However, the metal is considered to be moderately toxic after testing on rats and hence, should be dealt with carefully.
Scandium Facts: 65-66 | Cost of Scandium
65. Scandium is one of the costliest metals as the extraction is limited. A kilogram of pure Scandium costs near about 4,000 to 20,000 USD.
66. The commercially used form of Scandium, Scandium Oxide ranges around 7,000 USD.