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  • Barium
  • Mines Producing Barium

Barium is a silver coloured soft metallic alkaline earth metal that is never found in nature as a free element. It doesn't occur as a mineral. Barium was first recognised as an element in 1774 but wasn't reduced to a metal until 1898 after the technology of using electrolytic isolation was discovered. The silver colour of barium disappears quickly through oxidation when exposed to air as it forms a dark grey oxide layer. It gives good electrical conductivity, however, many properties of barium are still to be accurately measured.

English chemist Sir Humphry Davy isolated pure barium from molten barium oxide in 1808 but because of its high reactivity the uses of pure barium was limited throughout the following years. However, in later years it was found useful in the removing of unwanted oxygen from the cathode ray tubes of television sets and other electronic vacuum tubes.

As a Direct Contrast to Pure Barium, Barium Minerals Have Wide Uses
The uses of barium minerals are wide and varied and includes the following:

  • Soluble barium compounds are highly poisonous and used as rat poisons
  • Barium sulphate is insoluble and used by drillers in the oil and gas industry as a weighting agent
  • In its pure form it is used as a X-ray contrasting agent to show internal functions of the human body
  • Can be added to fireworks to give off a green colour
  • Added to cast iron and steel to reduce carbon grains
  • Is a component of high temperature superconductors

  • Its other uses include an additive to aluminium – silicon alloys to refine their structures such as when:
  • Alloyed with nickel for spark plugs
  • Alloyed with lead and tin solder to increase creep resistance
  • Alloys in the manufacturing of bearings
  • Added to cast iron and steel as an inoculant
  • Creating of a high grade steel de-oxidiser when alloyed with aluminium, silicon, manganese and calcium
  • It precipitates the compound 'permanent white' in the manufacturer of paints and varnishes
  • Used as a filler for ringing ink, rubber and plastic.
  • A coating pigment in the making of paper
  • As nanoparticles, it is able to improve the physical properties of epoxies and other polymers
  • Other uses of barium are as follows:

  • barium flouride in infrared and optical applications because of its transparency range
  • barium oxide for coating flourescent lamp electrodes to facilitate the release of electrons
  • barium carbonate in glass making where it improves its luster and reducing leaks of
  • radiation from cathode ray tubes such as those in TV sets
  • barium nitrate which gives off the green colour in firework displays
  • barium titanate in electroceramics
  • barium peroxide which works as a catalyst to facilitate the welding of railway tracks. An ammunition green tracer and as a bleaching agent.

    Barium salts were used as medication in the early 19th century but as they were found to be toxic the practice was discontinued. The only use barium has in medicine these days is the barium meal. This is a barium sulphate used in radio-imaging of the human digestive tract. Unlike barium salts, barium sulphate is not able to be absorbed into the body, therefore it has no ill effects.

  • Australian Mines that produce Barium

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