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Overview of Bismuth Element

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Chemistry
Wordcount: 1178 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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Periodic Table Page for Bismuth-

Symbol- Bi

Atomic number- 83

Atomic weight- 208.98


Element Classification- other metals

The element bismuth (Bi) is a solid element. Its atomic number is 208.98 which is the number of protons in the nucleus of an atom. Bismuth belongs in the nitrogen family on the periodic table. Bismuth-209 was once thought to be natural and stable element, but more studying of bismuth-209 has shown that it does decay. Bismuth can be found in places like Peru, Mexico, Japan to name a few (Chemistry Learner). Bolivia has the most bismuth deposits. The melting point of bismuth is 271.3 degrees Celsius (2002).

The element bismuth was discovered at some point in 1400 AD, but was not named an element until years later. It was identified as an element in 1753 by Claude Geoffroy (It’s Elemental). Bismuth was at times confused with lead and tin. It is gathered during mining and the refining of lead, copper, tin, silver, and gold.

Bismuth gets its name from German words meaning white mass (It’s Elemental). Bismuth is white with a little bite of pink color, and it is brittle. Bismuth is used in many different things. It is normally mixed with other elements. Previous uses of bismuth in history were for printers and caskets. Although at that time bismuth was not known to be an element (Chemistry Learner).

There are two common bismuth alloys mentioned in the nitrogen elements book. The names are Field’s metal and Wood’s metal. Fields metal contains bismuth, indium, and tin, and Wood’s metal contains bismuth, lead, tin, and cadmium. Both the metals are used in many fire sprinklers. (Roza 2010)

Some of the things that bismuth is used for now is fire sprinklers, fire detectors, and electric fuses, because of its low melting alloys (It’s Elemental). Bismuth is also used at nuclear plants “to carry radioactive fuel to the core of certain nuclear reactors. It also helps cool the reactors” (2002). Some of the other things that bismuth is used in is paints, make-up, and some medications (It’s Elemental).

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Pepto bismol is one medication- which contains bismuth subsalicylate which can help with an upset stomach. In small doses bismuth is usually not harmful to people. Continuous exposure can cause minor kidney damage, and in large does can be fatal. In the nitrogen elements book it also states that children with chicken pox should not take medication that contains bismuth. It has been linked to rare disease called Reye’s syndrome, which can be fatal. (Roza 2010) Reye’s syndrome is extremely rare that causes confusion, swelling of the brain, and liver disease. (2018 Reye’s syndrome)

Also in 2014 water had to be lead free, and bismuth was being looked at as a replacement (Soft schools). Most switched to copper-bismuth brass alloys. The cost of bismuth was a much less costly alternative than silicon (Bismuth vs. silicon in lead-free products).

Bismuth is even used for cancer imaging. Bismuth is an alternative to gold which is very costly to use. A doctor by the name of Mamdooh Algathami and a team tried bismuth nanoparticles. The bismuth doubled the radiation to the cancerous tissue. The doctor quoted that “by enhancing radiation in the tumor, doctors may be able to decrease the initial dose of radiotherapy, which will hopefully result in fewer side effects for the patient while having the same impact on the cancer.” Bismuth nanoparticles were tested and showed to increase the radiation dose by 90 percent. (Metal Nanoparticles)

Reactions of the element bismuth differ depending on what it is mixed with. When bismuth is mixed with air it forms a different type of bismuth known as bismuth (III) oxide. The flame from it is bluish white. When bismuth is mixed with water at red heat it reacts and forms the same as when it is mixed with air. When bismuth is mixed with halogens it forms several different types of bismuth. Then when bismuth is mixed with certain acids it can dissolve (bismuth element).

Bismuth is a fragile metal and it has a metallic look about it. Bismuth is also the least of all the metals to be magnetized. When it goes from a liquid to a solid it expands, and it does not conduct electricity very well. Bismuth is not bothered by hydrochloric acid and mildly bothered by hot sulfuric acid, but is dissolves very quickly nitric acid (Bismuth Chemical Element).

Bismuth is a very beautiful metal and collectors enjoy it. Bismuth can be made in a lab or in kitchens. Bismuth 209 is what is found in nature. Some fishing sinkers are also made from bismuth because it can be melted down and it is not poisonous to birds and humans like lead. (Roza 2010)

As mentioned earlier that bismuth is normally a byproduct in mining and refining of other metals- Bismuthinite (Bi2S3) and bismite (Bi2O3) are the most important ores. Bismuth is refined using the Betterton-Kroll process. The process involves first adding calcium and magnesium to molten lead-bismuth. This forms a dross which is solid impurities float on top of the molten material. Then the dross is skimmed off the pure molten lead. The next step involves treating the compounds with chlorine. The chlorine forms compounds with the calcium and magnesium. This frees up the bismuth. (Roza 2010)

Works Citied Page

  •                  “Bismuth vs. Silicon in Lead-Free Products.” Apollo Valves, www.apollovalves.com/lead_free/article/bismuth-vs-silicon-in-lead-free-products.
  •                  “It’s Elemental.” It’s Elemental – Isotopes of the Element Barium, education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele083.html.
  •                  Metal Nanoparticles May Improve Cancer Treatment, www.understandingnano.com/bismuth-nanoparticles-radiation-therapy.html.
  •                  “Reye’s Syndrome.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 8 Aug. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/reyes-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20377255.
  •                  Roza, Greg. The Nitrogen Elements: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Arsenic, Antimony, Bismuth. Rosen Central, 2010.
  •                  “World Book 2002 Book 2 B.” World Book 2002 Book 2 B, World Book, 2002, p. 383.


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