Boron

Boron is the fifth element of the periodic table of elements and heads group 13. It is a metalloid with metal properties and non-metal and is symbolized by the letter “B”. Also, it has atomic number 5 and its mass is 10.811.

If you want to know the characteristics and other details of the Boro, continue reading until the end…

Characteristics of Boron

Boron (B) can be found as orthoboric acid, sodium borate or borax, which is the most common way to get it.

Colemanite or calcium borate and ulexite, also known as sodium calcium borate, up to now they have not been found in pure form in nature.

Elementary boron is capable of forming bonds with metallic and non-metallic elements to form other compounds. In addition, it has semiconductive and semimetallic properties, and is located in group 3A in the periodic table.

When it reacts with other compounds, Boron can be very versatile and capable of giving up its electrons if the other compound needs it, but also accepting them if the other element wants to grant them.

Elementary boron generally occurs as an amorphous brown powder and its ability to conduct electricity at room temperature is almost nil.

But, at very high temperatures, Boron becomes an excellent current conductor! Also, despite its opacity, it is capable of transmitting light infrared.

When boron crystallizes, it takes on an appearance and hardness very similar to diamond. Additionally, among the chemical elements known to date, it is the one that offers the highest tensile strength (between 1600 and 2400 MPa).

Story of Boro

The discovery of Boron is attributed to English and French chemical scientists, although it was not until 1909 that a pure sample of this element could be obtained. However, it is known that sodium borate was used by the Chinese in the 3rd century.

In the year 300, glazed ceramics and glassware were made in China using a substance they called tincal,, which was actually borax.

Also, in ancient Egypt, for the mummification of their deceased, a mineral composed of borates and salts called natron was used. And, in ancient Rome, boron compounds were used to make glass.

Another interesting piece of information is that the Persian alchemist Rhazes classified minerals into 6 types, which were made up of borates.

Then, starting in the 8th century, the Arabs used sodium borate to purify and refine gold and silver, something that undoubtedly gave them good results.< /p>

In the year 1808, the scientist Humphry Davy applied electrolysis to a borax solution and was able to observe that a black precipitate accumulated on one of the electrodes.

Then he heated boron oxide with potassium and obtained a brown almost black powder, which was how Boron was known until then.

On the other hand, Gay-Lussac and Thénard subjected boric acid in the presence of iron to high temperatures to obtain Boron.Subsequently, they carried out the experiment in reverse and from the oxidation of boron, they obtained boric acid

Despite these results, none of these scientists could realize that they had got a new element. It was not until 1827 that Jöns Jakob Berzelius managed to identify this substance as elemental.

Then, in 1892, a French chemist named Henri Moissan managed to produce boron with a purity of 98%.

However, it was in the year 1909, that the American chemist Ezekiel Weintraub managed to obtain boron in its pure form.

Obtaining Boron

As we have commented, it is not possible to obtain Boron in its elemental form in nature, so the source of this substance is the borates found in evaporific deposits, such as borax and to a lesser degree, colemanite.

In some volcanic sources and fumes, sasolites are found and can also be precipitated as orthoboric acid.

During the solidification process of silicate magma, natural boron minerals are formed, located in pegmatite deposits.

Something to add is that the methods previously used to obtain pure Boron required a reduction of the oxide using metals such as aluminum or magnesium, but the resulting substance was always contaminated.

It is estimated that Boron forms 0.001% of the earth's crust and the number of locations of this element with high concentrations is quite limited, being the deposits of California, United States, where the largest amount of borax is found.

In Argentina (specifically in Tincalayu) and in Turkey, there are important borax deposits, although the latter was discovered recently.

In the region of Lardarello, Italy, you can get Sasolite and in Death Valley in the US and also in Turkey you can get colemanite.

Properties of Boron

Boron is considered to be a polymorphous solid that can be found as a powder, ranging in color from brown to black.

Furthermore, Boron in the form of crystals can have a very hard, bright reddish hue, or a hue ranging from jet black to metallic silver.

On the other hand, Boron has an atomic mass of 10.811 g/mol and its melting point is 2076 C. As for , the density in the liquid state of Boron, this is 2.08 g/cm³ and in the crystalline and amorphous solid state it is 20 ⁰C: 2, 34g/cm³

Additionally, the boiling point of Boron is 3927 ⁰C, its melting point is 50.2 kJ /mol and has a hardness of ~ 9.5 on the Mohs scale.

Also, Boron has an electric resistivity of ~ 106 Ω.m at 20 ⁰C, its atomic volume is 4.16 cm³/mol, electronegativity is 2.04 on the Pauling scale, and molar heat capacity is 11,087 J/(mol K).

As for the ionization energy of boron, the first level is 800.6 kJ/mol, the second level is 2,427 kJ/mol, and the third level is 3,659.7 kJ/mol.

Its atomic radius is 90 empirical mp, thermal conductivity is equal to 27.4 W/mK, and is not soluble in water, alcohol or in ether, but in nitric and sulfuric acids.

One of the most significant properties of Boron is that it has many physical forms, this is known as allotropy.

Furthermore, it has a high capacity to absorb neutrons and can react with all halogens, obtaining trihalides.

Another important fact is that Boron is not affected by nitric acid unless it is subjected to high temperatures and in that case it could react producing borates.

Finally, when reacting with hydrogen, boranes are produced, which are very unstable, explosive and highly toxic compounds.

Boron Applications

Of the compounds obtained from Boron, one of the most used is borax, due to its density and the fact that it is capable of dissolving in water. Its physicochemical characteristics also stand out and for this reason it is widely used in various areas.

Uses in industry

borax is used as one of the main ingredients in the manufacture of detergents, softeners, soaps, disinfectants, multipurpose cleaners, steel and porcelain cleaners, as well as stain removers, among others.

Combined with water, borax is used to solder gold and silver in the manufacture of high-quality jewelry.

In addition, borax is an essential ingredient in the production of ceramics, tableware, porcelain for floors, fiberglass, glass, alloys, and more.

In the metallurgical industry, the use of Boron is of vital importance when it comes to producing refined metals used by construction companies and in the electrical industry. In addition, it is used to coat electrolytes in electrochemistry.

Uses in agriculture

Boron is an element that plants require for the fixation of phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen and calcium. These nutrients allow healthy plant growth and development.

On the other hand, Boron is necessary for the transport of sugars and energy during plant growth.

Essential care must be taken when administering very high doses of fertilizers, since these reduce the assimilation of Boron, especially when the concentration levels of this element are very low.

Boron in medicine

This compound helps improve brain function, which is why Boron is considered “food for the brain”.

In that case, it improves short-term memory, attention and motor control. Therefore, the deficiency of this compound can affect brain function.

Studies have shown that Boron acts as a metabolic regulator, serving as an inhibitor of oxidoreductase enzymes and serine proteases that regulate the normal inflammatory process. It has also been proven that it can alter the blood coagulation process.

In the case of patients with brain tumors, chromotherapy can be applied with Boron 10 isotopes, which has the purpose the progressive elimination of these tumor formations. Currently, its effectiveness is being tested in breast, prostate and liver cancer.

Boron also improves bone density and prevents the onset of bone diseases, such as osteoporosis

It has been proven that this mineral is capable of increasing the thickness, volume and mass of bones and helps with the absorption of vitamin D.

Experiment or play with Boro

One of them is to make a slime with borax for 1 person or for a group for fun, for a birthday or school events.

Prepare a mixture of 15 grams of borax in 1.5L of water, and 15 grams of borax (3 small teaspoons). This amount of water will give you about 10 slimes.

Once the borax solution is ready, put the plastic on the ground and look for plastic cups, plate, spoons and glue.

Pour the content of the glue into the plastic cup.
Fill the empty glue bottle with tap water and pour it into the cup as well.
Stir well, until a remains homogeneous mixture.

You can use food coloring and also water soluble paints for children. In this step, you can add colored glitter or any other accessories to the slime.

Pour the colorant into the mixture of glue and water, and stir well to obtain a homogeneous color.

As you stir the glue in the glass, add the water with borax. Stir well with the spoon…

It is time to remove the sticky mass from the glass and knead it so that it dries and makes the slime.

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