By: Tim Bortoli
Technetium is a chemical element that is mostly synthesized with only a small amount found naturally. This is due to the fact that technetium is an unstable (radioactive) element. It is a silvery-gray transition metal that is naturally found in uranium ore. It has an atomic number of 43 and the chemical symbol of Tc. When in powdered form Technetium burns in oxygen. It is highly resistant to corrosion with no form of hydrochloric acid able to corrode it. Technetium has a small number of niche uses in the world today, read this article to find out more.
Uses of Technetium
The main use of technetium is in the medical industry. It is used as a radioactive isotope in medical tests particularly as a medical tracer than can be detected in the human body via a gamma camera.
There are also another 31 radiopharmaceuticals that are used to study brain, kidney, thyroid, lungs, liver and gallbladder function, as well as skeleton, blood and tumor development.
Technetium-95m is used as a tracer to study the movement of technetium in animal and plant systems.
Due to its long half life it is used to calibrate scientific equipment.
Technetium-99 may also be used in optoelectronic devices and nanoscale nuclear batteries in the future.
Technetium is used as a catalyst in processes such as the dehydrogenation (removal of hydrogen from a molecule) of isopropyl alcohol.
In small scale enclosed systems Technetium is used to stop the corrosion of steel. However, this is not common because of the radioactivity of the element.
Due to its radioactive properties the uses of technetium have not been properly explored. It may be useful in other arenas, but the risk to human health deems it too dangerous to be further experimented with.
Did You Know?
Technetium was predicted long before it was actually discovered. Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev saw that there was a gap in the periodic table and theorized that an element was missing. In 1925 German scientists Ida Tacke, Walter Noddack, and Otto Berg conducted experiments to find the missing elements in the periodic table. Their discovery of Technetium was disputed and refuted. Today it is speculated that they did in fact discover Technetium.