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Strontium


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Atomic Number:38Atomic Symbol:Sr
Atomic Weight:87.62Electron Configuration:2-8-18-8-2
Shells:2,8,18,8,2Filling Orbital:5s2
Melting Point:769oCBoiling Point:1384oC
Uses:For nuclear batteries in buoys, flares and fireworks for crimson color


History

(Strontian, town in Scotland). Isolated by Davey by electrolysis in 1808; however, Adair Crawford in 1790 recognized a new mineral (strontianite) as differing from other barium minerals.

Sources

Strontium is found chiefly as celestite and strontianite. The metal can be prepared by electrolysis of the fused chloride mixed with potassium chloride, or is made by reducing strontium oxide with aluminum in a vacuum at a temperature at which strontium distills off.

Properties

Three allotropic forms of the metal exist, with transition points at 235 and 540C. Strontium is softer than calcium and decomposes water more vigorously. It does not absorb nitrogen below 380C. It should be kept under kerosene to prevent oxidation. Freshly cut strontium has a silvery appearance, but rapidly turns a yellowish color with the formation of the oxide. The finely divided metal ignites spontaneously in air. Volatile strontium salts impart a beautiful crimson color to flames, and these salts are used in pyrotechnics and in the production of flares.

Isotopes

Natural strontium is a mixture of four stable isotopes. Sixteen other unstable isotopes are known to exist. Of greatest importance is 90Sr with a half-life of 29 years. It is a product of nuclear fallout and presents a health problem. This isotope is one of the best long-lived high-energy beta emitters known, and is used in SNAP (Systems for Nuclear Auxilliary Power) devices. These devices hold promise for use in space vehicles, remote weather stations, navigational buoys, etc., where a lighweight, long-lived, nuclear-electric power source is needed.

Uses

The major use for strontium at present is in producing glass for color television picture tubes. It has also found use in producing ferrite magnets and in refining zinc. Strontium titanate is an interesting optical material as it has an extremely high refractive index and an optical dispersion greater than that of diamond. It has been used as a gemstone, but is very soft. It does not occur naturally.

Cost

Strontium metal (98% pure) in January 1990 cost about $5/oz

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