barium

barium

[bair-ee-uhm, bar-]
barium [Gr.,=heavy], metallic chemical element; symbol Ba; at. no. 56; at. wt. 137.33; m.p. 725°C;; b.p. 1,640°C;; sp. gr. 3.5 at 20°C;; valence +2. Barium is a soft, silver-white, chemically active, poisonous metal with a face-centered cubic crystalline structure. It is an alkaline-earth metal in Group 2 of the periodic table. Its principal ore is barite (barium sulfate); it also occurs in the mineral witherite (barium carbonate). The pure metal is obtained by the electrolysis of fused barium salts or, industrially, by the reduction of barium oxide with aluminum. Barium is often used in barium-nickel alloys for spark-plug electrodes and in vacuum tubes as a drying and oxygen-removing agent. Barium oxidizes in air, and it reacts vigorously with water to form the hydroxide, liberating hydrogen. In moist air it may spontaneously ignite. It burns in air to form the peroxide, which produces hydrogen peroxide when treated with water. Barium reacts with almost all of the nonmetals; all of its water-soluble and acid-soluble compounds are poisonous. Barium carbonate is used in glass, as a pottery glaze, and as a rat poison. Chrome yellow (barium chromate) is used as a paint pigment and in safety matches. The chlorate and nitrate are used in pyrotechnics to provide a green color. Barium oxide strongly absorbs carbon dioxide and water; it is used as a drying agent. Barium chloride is used in medicinal preparations and as a water softener. Barium sulfide phosphoresces after exposure to light; it is sometimes used as a paint pigment. Barite, the sulfate ore, has many industrial uses. Because barium sulfate is virtually insoluble in water and acids, it can be used to coat the alimentary tract to increase the contrast for X-ray photography without being absorbed by the body and poisoning the subject. Barium salts give a characteristic green color in the flame test. Barium metal was first isolated in 1808 by Sir Humphry Davy by electrolysis.

Chemical element, one of the alkaline earth metals, chemical symbol Ba, atomic number 56. It is very reactive and in compounds always has valence 2. In nature it is found chiefly as the minerals barite (barium sulfate) and witherite (barium carbonate). The element is used in metallurgy, and its compounds are used in fireworks, petroleum mining, and radiology and as pigments and reagents. All soluble barium compounds are toxic. Barium sulfate, one of the most insoluble salts known, is given in a “barium meal” as a contrast medium for X-ray examination of the gastrointestinal tract.

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ancient Barium

Seaport city (pop., 2001 prelim.: 332,143), capital of Puglia, southeastern Italy. Evidence shows that the site may have been inhabited since 1500 BC. Under the Romans it became an important port. In the 9th century AD it was a Moorish stronghold, but it was taken by the Byzantines in 885. Peter the Hermit preached the First Crusade there in 1096. Razed by the Sicilians in 1156, it acquired new greatness in the 13th century under Frederick II. It became an independent duchy in the 14th century, passed to the Kingdom of Naples in 1558, and became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.

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Barium is a chemical element. It has the symbol Ba, and atomic number 56. Barium is a soft silvery metallic alkaline earth metal. It is never found in nature in its pure form due to its reactivity with air. Its oxide is historically known as baryta but it reacts with water and carbon dioxide and is not found as a mineral. The most common naturally occurring minerals are the very insoluble barium sulfate, BaSO4 (barite), and barium carbonate, BaCO3 (witherite). Benitoite is a rare gem containing barium.

Characteristics

Barium is a metallic element that is chemically similar to calcium and strontium, but more reactive. This metal oxidizes very easily when exposed to air and is highly reactive with water or alcohol, producing hydrogen gas. Burning in air or oxygen produces not just barium oxide (BaO) but also the peroxide. Simple compounds of this heavy element are notable for their high specific gravity. This is true of the most common barium-bearing mineral, its sulfate barite BaSO4, also called 'heavy spar' due to the high density (4.5 g/cm³).

Applications

Barium has some medical and many industrial uses:

History

Barium (Greek bary, meaning "heavy") was first identified in 1774 by Carl Scheele and extracted in 1808 by Sir Humphry Davy in England. The oxide was at first called barote, by Guyton de Morveau, which was changed by Antoine Lavoisier to baryta, from which "barium" was derived to describe the metal.

Occurrence

Because barium quickly becomes oxidized in air, it is difficult to obtain this metal in its pure form. It is primarily found in and extracted from the mineral barite which is crystallized barium sulfate. Because barite is so insoluble, it cannot be used directly for the preparation of other barium compounds. Instead, the ore is heated with carbon to reduce it to barium sulfide

BaSO4 + 2CBaS + 2CO2

The barium sulfide is then hydrolyzed or reacted with acids to form other barium compounds such as the chloride, nitrate, and carbonate.

Barium is commercially produced through the electrolysis of molten barium chloride (BaCl2) Isolation (* follow):

(cathode) Ba2+* + 2e- → Ba
(anode) Cl-* → ½Cl2 (g) + e-

Compounds

The most important compounds are barium peroxide, barium chloride, sulfate, carbonate, nitrate, and chlorate.

Isotopes

Naturally occurring barium is a mix of seven stable isotopes. There are twenty-two isotopes known, but most of these are highly radioactive and have half-lives in the several millisecond to several minute range. The only notable exceptions are 133Ba which has a half-life of 10.51 years, and 137mBa (2.55 minutes).

Precautions

All water or acid soluble barium compounds are extremely poisonous. At low doses, barium acts as a muscle stimulant, while higher doses affect the nervous system, causing cardiac irregularities, tremors, weakness, anxiety, dyspnea and paralysis. This may be due to its ability to block potassium ion channels which are critical to the proper function of the nervous system.

Barium sulfate can be taken orally because it is highly insoluble in water, and is eliminated completely from the digestive tract. Unlike other heavy metals, barium does not bioaccumulate. However, inhaled dust containing barium compounds can accumulate in the lungs, causing a benign condition called baritosis.

Oxidation occurs very easily and, to remain pure, barium should be kept under a petroleum-based fluid (such as kerosene) or other suitable oxygen-free liquids that exclude air.

Barium acetate could lead to death in high doses. Marie Robards poisoned her father with the substance in Texas in 1993. She was tried and convicted in 1996.

References

External links

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