Praseodymium is a soft, silvery metal that is represented by the symbol Pr and the atomic number of 59. It is malleable and ductile and is one the rare earth elements. It is very reactive and even when artificially prepared it slowly develops a green oxide coating. It was discovered in 1841 by a Swedish chemist named Carl Gustav Mosanader in the form of an oxide. The oxide was later separated into two salts of different colours which were named praseodymium and neodymium. The chemical element was named for the colour of its primary oxide praseodymium coming from the Greek word prasinos (which means green). This article will detail the main used of praseodymium in the world today.
Uses of Praseodymium
- One of the main uses of praseodymium is an alloying agent. It is mixed with magnesium to create high strength metals that are used in aircraft engines. It is also alloyed with nickel to create a strong magneto caloric effect which allows scientists to cool something to within one thousandth of a degree of absolute zero.
- 5 percent of mischmetal is made up of praseodymium. This is the metal used to create flints in many lighters and torches. Modern firesteel products and also contain 4 percent praseodymium.
- Praseodymium is also used in carbon arch lights. These are used in the motion picture industry for studio lights and projectors. Praseodymium is in the rare earth mixture and is used in the creation of these lights.
- Praseodymium compounds are added to glass and enamels to give it a yellow or green colour. It can also be used to colour cubic zirconia yellow to simulate the mineral peridot.
- Praseodymium is also added to the glass that is used to make welder’s or glass blowers goggles. It is a component of the didymium glass.
- Doping praseodymium in fluoride glass enables it to be used as a fiber optic amplifier. Silicate crystals that are doped with praseodymium are used to slow down a light pulse so that it only moves a few hundred metres per second.
- Praseodymium is used in high intensity magnets which are used in generators and electric motors in hybrid cars and wind turbines.
- It is also used in nickel metal hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries which are used in most hybrid vehicles.