Chlorine

Chlorine’s great importance and versatility makes it quite the chlorified chemical.

  • Chlorine is a fundamental element of chemistry denoted by the atomic symbol ‘Cl’ and the number 17.
  • Out of the world’s most common crust elements, chlorine is listed as number twenty-one, but it generally exists in an impure form, such as in common salt.
  • At 0°C (32°F) and 100 kPa of pressure, chlorine can be found in a gaseous form, and the gas is a green-yellow colour, while the liquid form tends to be more yellow in colour.
  • Although part of the common salt compound (sodium chloride) was commonly used by ancient civilisations, chloride in its pure gaseous form was first known in 1630 by Jan van Helmot, a chemist from the Southern Netherlands, however this finding was originally considered unimportant.
  • The chemist most commonly credited with the discovery of chlorine is Carl Wilhelm Scheele from Sweden, in 1774, however he suggested the chemical was a compound (with multiple individual elements) rather than an element itself.
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Liquid Chlorine
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
  • Chlorine as an element is typically extracted from brine, sodium chloride (common salt) dissolved in water, using an electric current.
  • It was only in 1809, that newly published results of an experiment speculated that chlorine was its own element, as observed by the French chemists Joseph Gay-Lussac and Louis-Jacques Thēnard; and the element was later isolated and named in 1810 as ‘khlōros’, a Greek word referring to the colour green, by Humphry Davy, a chemist from England, and he changed this term soon after, to the one we use today.
  • Chlorine is commonly used for disinfectants, especially for pools; to purify water for drinking; and to create dyes, plastics, insecticides, and house cleaning chemicals like bleach, among others.
  • Around the 1830s, various compounds were created using chlorine, to remove the smell of dead flesh in hospitals.
  • Chlorine was used by the Germans during World War I, as a lethal gas that damaged respiratory organs, eyesight and skin.
Bibliography:
Blaszczak-Boxe A, Facts About Chlorine, 2014, Live Science, http://www.livescience.com/28988-chlorine.html
Chlorine, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorine
Chlorine – Cl, 2016, Lenntech, http://www.lenntech.com/periodic/elements/cl.htm

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Titanium

Titanium is one of those elements we all take for granted.

  • Titanium is a chemical element and metal, denoted by the atomic symbol ‘Ti’ and the atomic number 22.
  • Titanium is of a white to silver or grey colour and is shiny and metallic in appearance.
  • Titanium occurs naturally in mineral deposits, sediment, and rocks, especially igneous rocks, and is commonly retrieved from ilmenite, anatase, and rutile, and can be found in stars, meteorites, and living forms, including animals and plants, as well as water.
  • It is notable that titanium is very lightweight in comparison to its durability and strength, however if heated to above 430°C (806°F), it will weaken, and at 1668°C (3034.4°F), it will melt.
  • A variety of other metals can be alloyed with titanium to viably increase strength with little weight increase, making the metal very versatile.
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Titanium Crystal Bar
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
  • Typically, titanium is extracted into a sponge-like form, which is them melted and fabricated into a usable resource.
  • The majority of titanium that is collected is used to produce titanium dioxide, which provides the white colour in many plastics, paper, paints and toothpaste; while the metal is sometimes used to strengthen sporting equipment, and it is also used in some forms of jewellery, automobiles, aircraft, watercraft and spacecraft, electronic devices, propellers for water use and missiles, among others.
  • Titanium has a high resistance against corrosion in both the air and water, though small particles of the metal are highly combustible, and when exposed to air, or the particles form a cloud of dust, they can spontaneously combust; and the metal also reacts easily to chlorine gas, liquid oxygen and heat, sometimes causing the chemical to explode.
  • Titanium was discovered by Englishman William Gregor, an amateur mineralogist, who discovered a strange sand with magnetic properties in 1791, which on analysis, was made of iron oxide and what was later determined as titanium oxide.
  • ‘Titanium’ is named after the twelve giant sons of Gaia and Uranus, the Greek mythology deities of earth and sky respectively, who were called ‘Titans’ and were renown for their strength.
Bibliography:
The Element Titanium, n.d, Jefferson Lab, http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele022.html
Titanium, 2016, Los Alamos National Laboratory, http://periodic.lanl.gov/22.shtml
Titanium, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanium

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Polymer Banknote

Polymer banknotes may be uncommon and unfamiliar, but they certainly are not unidentified.

  • Polymer banknotes are an invention used to represent an amount of currency, using flat, generally rectangular, printed notes made of polymer plastic, and they were introduced as a replacement for paper banknotes.
  • ‘Polymer banknotes’ are also known as ‘polymer money’, ‘plastic banknotes’ and ‘plastic money’; and they are particularly difficult to forge, especially with added security features.
  • Together, the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Australian science research centre CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), headed by Australian chemist David Solomon, invented polymer banknotes, releasing the first batch in Australia in 1988, after twenty years of development, and a cost of 20 million Australian dollars.
  • The project to develop polymer banknotes was initiated after a large Australian forgery of newly released paper ones, spanning over 1966 to 1967, mounting to approximately 800,000 Australian dollars worth at the time.
  • The first successful polymer banknote was the Australian ten-dollar note released in 1988, which originally featured an indigenous Australian on one side, and European settlers and a ship on the other, and was issued to commemorate the bicentenary of European settlement in Australia; while a full set, the first in the world, of Australian notes was not released until 1996, after some further improvements were made.
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  • For security purposes, polymer banknotes will often include watermarks; embossing and micro printing among other printing methods; various threads, including magnetic, that are embedded in the note; transparent plastic windows containing an optical variable device (OVD) – an iridescent or holographic image; and other measures, many of which were once unique to polymer money.
  • Traditionally, polymer banknotes are made by inking a plastic film with white, usually leaving a small transparent shape, cutting the film into sheets and printing on them with a variety of inks using diverse range of techniques over multiple processes, and then are varnished and cut.
  • In 2014, only 22 countries were using polymer banknotes, while only a few countries had full sets in circulation, and these included Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Vietnam, Romania, Papua New Guinea and Brunei.
  • The practical advantages of a polymer banknote compared to a paper note include its resistance to water, dirt, burning, tearing and crumpling – general factors that improve note longevity.
  • One of the primary issues against introducing polymer banknotes into many countries is its cost for initial introduction, as well as higher production costs, which in 2011, for Canadian notes was 19 cents per banknote, slightly more than double the cost of paper notes.
Bibliography:
How Plastic Money is Made, 2016, AZO Materials, http://www.azom.com/materials-video-details.aspx?VidID=430
Polymer Banknote, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polymer_banknote
Robertson G, Funny money: How counterfeiting led to a major overhaul of Canada’s money, 2012, The Globe and Mail, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/currencies/funny-money-how-counterfeiting-led-to-a-major-overhaul-of-canadas-money/article554632/?page=all
Spurling T & Solomon D, Proceeds of Crime: How Polymer Banknotes were Invented, 2014, The Conversation, http://theconversation.com/proceeds-of-crime-how-polymer-banknotes-were-invented-34642
Weiczner J, Canada’s Plastic Money Is Stumping Counterfeiters, 2016, Fortune, http://fortune.com/2016/01/15/canadian-dollar-usd-counterfeit/

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Sulfur

Don’t lose your senses under the smell of sulfur!

  • Sulfur is an element that is part of the periodic table, scientifically notated as ‘S’, while 16 is its atomic number.
  • The cosmos’ tenth most common element is sulfur, which can be found naturally in stars of massive size, in meteorites, and in volcanic gases.
  • Sulfur, also known and spelled as ‘sulphur’, is coloured yellow in its purist form; though it changes to a red coloured liquid upon reaching a heat of approximately 200° Celsius (392° Fahrenheit).
  • Originally, sulfur was mined in a somewhat pure form or extracted from pyrite, however in modern times the element is extracted from fossil fuels such as petroleum.
  • The identification and use of sulfur has been present throughout many ancient civilisations, including Egypt, India, Greece and China, and the element was often used for primitive medical purposes.
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Volcanic Sulfur
Image courtesy of James St. John/Flickr
  • Fertilisers, pesticides, cellophane, paper bleach, rayon, detergents, as well as preservatives purposed for dried fruit, all often make use of sulfur.
  • Sulfur is relatively safe for humans in its elemental form, however when combined with other elements, it can cause harm through breathing it in a gas form, or on contact with skin.
  • Compounds with strong smells, typically those unpleasant, generally consist of sulfur; including the odour of rotten eggs, the spray of skunks, and garlic.
  • Sulfur melts at 388.36 Kelvin (115.21° Celsius or 239.38° Fahrenheit); boils at 717.8 Kelvin (444.6° Celsius or ​832.3° Fahrenheit); and produces a flame of a blue colour.
  • Sulfur has been used as an ingredient in multiple medicines, particularly those to cure skin diseases, due to the element’s ability to kill bacteria.
Bibliography:
The Element Sulfur, n.d, Jefferson Lab, http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele016.html
Sulfur, 2015, Los Alamos, http://periodic.lanl.gov/16.shtml
Sulfur, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulfur

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Lead

Lead is a very versatile material – it’s a pity it is so dangerous.

  • Lead is a metal chemical element of the carbon section in the periodic table, and it is a post transition, or poor, metal.
  • Lead is known under the Pb symbol on the periodic table, and it has the atomic number, or number of protons, of 82 and a standard atomic weight or relative atomic mass of 207.2.
  • When left open to the air, lead changes from a shiny blue-silver colour, to a dull grey, and it is a shiny silver colour when liquefied.
  • Lead is a very heavy but soft and pliable material, commonly used to block radiation, and it is also found in bullets, alloys, certain batteries, as well as traditionally in fishing sinkers, and is used in the building industry.
  • The natural formation of lead is generally caused by the breaking down of elements that are heaver, and it is most commonly found in the mineral galena, from which it is extracted.

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  • Lead has been used as a material since 6000 BC, however the Ancient Romans were the first to use the material extensively, especially in pipes for plumbing purposes.
  • Lead is extremely toxic on entering the human body, affecting many organs negatively, and can even cause fatalities.
  • Lead in soil can be neutralised by certain fungi, notably Aspergillus versicolor, and some forms of bacteria may also be effective.
  • Lead melts at 600.61 Kelvin (327.46 ° Celsius or 621.43 ° Fahrenheit) and has a solid density of 11.34 grams/centimetres cubed (6.55 ounces/inches cubed) at room temperature.
  • The Latin term for ‘lead’ is ‘plumbum’, which has been used as the root for the English word ‘plumber’, which originally means ‘a worker of lead’, and the periodic table abbreviation is derived from the Latin word for the metal.
Bibliography:
Lead, 2015, Royal Society of Chemistry, http://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/82/lead
Lead, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead
Learn About Lead, 2015, United States Environmental Protection Agency, http://www.epa.gov/lead/learn-about-lead

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Gasoline

If it doesn’t run on diesel, it’ll probably run on gasoline.

  • Gasoline is a liquid fuel used to power engines that produce power through the process of combustion, and it is commonly used in vehicles like automobiles, as well as lawn mowers.
  • ‘Gasoline’ is also known as ‘petrol’ or ‘petroleum’, and also by the general term ‘fuel’, and the product is a combination of hydrogen and carbon, a ‘hydrocarbon’.
  • Although gasoline is generally produced clear in colour, it is sometimes dyed yellow, purple, orange or red to visually distinguish between fuel types and grades.
  • Gasoline is sourced from crude oil, or ‘petroleum’ as it is also known, and the oil undergoes a distilling process which produces kerosene among other products, and the petrol produced is a by-product of this process.
  • The raw gasoline distilled from oil is generally unsuitable for use in engines as it causes engine knocking, and so to remedy this, chemical additives are included in the mixture, and these were originally lead based chemicals until leaded-fuels where banned in most countries from the 1970s onwards.

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  • Significant amounts of carbon dioxide are released on combustion of gasoline, and this, as well as the toxic nature of petrol leaks, and the non-renewable source of the fuel, has led it to be marked as not environmentally friendly.
  • Gasoline contains around 15 different chemicals that are poisonous to humans on consumption, and the fuel gives off a strong vapour which is toxic to humans if inhaled, although some people deliberately sniff the substance and as a result, petrol called ‘Opal’, that has a much reduced odour, has been introduced to some areas where sniffing is a serious problem.
  • In 1859, the American oil driller Edwin Drake, is said to have distilled the first gasoline, although he disposed of it under the assumption it would be of no use; and it was not until the 1890s that it was first used in automobiles.
  • After a year or so, gasoline is generally rendered too unstable and thus unusable for most engines, and is best disposed ofor used with the addition of fresh fuel, although a stabiliser can be added to fuel to extend its shelf life.
  • Gasoline is widely available at service stations, and in 2015 it cost between 50 cents and $7 US dollars for 3.8 litres (1 gallon) depending on the country, and the fuel is notoriously more expensive in Europe.
Bibliography:
Bellis M, History of Gasoline, 2015, About Money, http://inventors.about.com/od/gstartinventions/a/gasoline.htm
Gasoline, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline
Gasoline (Petrol), n.d, AMMA Resource Industry Employment Group, http://www.miningoilgasjobs.com.au/oil-gas-energy/hydrocarbons-and-energy/hydrocarbons/oil-and-gas/downstream/gasoline.aspx
History of Gasoline, 2014, US Energy Information Administration, http://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.cfm?page=gasoline_history

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